Alex Wan’s Latest Newsletter Anticipates Piedmont Traffic Resolution at New Development in 2-3 Weeks

by Stephen Cohen

In his latest newsletter, Alex Wan notes that many of you have contacted his office regarding the lane configuration on Piedmont Road in front of the Modera Morningside/Sprouts development. He goes on to say, “I share everyone’s frustration with the traffic situation that the construction has created, and we have been in close contact with both the developer and the city’s Transportation Department throughout this project regarding this matter.”

Alex states that he is hopeful that once the construction is completed – which the developer anticipates will be within the next two to three weeks – the final Piedmont Road lane configuration will alleviate the congestion that is currently occurring in that section of Piedmont.

For more details, and for other articles in Alex’s newsletter, click here. These articles include:

  • City Council Approves New Intergovernmental Agreement with Atlanta Public Schools
  • ‘A CHaRMing Evening’ – Thursday, March 10th!
  • Modera Morningside / Sprouts Traffic Configuration
  • Curbside Glass Recycling Update
  • APD Hiring Police Officers

Stephen Cohen is Editor of the Voice.

2015 VaHi Tour of Homes

The 2015 Tour of Homes is set for the first weekend in December, Saturday and Sunday the 5th and 6th.

Our line-up features six incredible homes and an historic tour of the neighborhood via an electric car. Each home is uniquely designed and decorated and represents the charming characteristics of our Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

One of the highlights of the Tour remains the delicious food tastings served in each home. Local favorites like Marlow’s Tavern, Murphy’s, Highland Tap, Fontaine’s, Atkins Park, and San Francisco Coffee are back. New this year: Savi Provisions and The Cook’s Warehouse.

To make the Tour more festive this year, we are very excited to have the Grady High School Chorus and Jazz Band, the SPARK choir, KNOCK Music House, the Virginia-Highland Church, City Church East, and Grace Lutheran performing live holiday music and carols throughout our community streets, restaurants and shops.

Each year the Tour just keeps getting bigger and better. So many people make this fundraising event possible in order to improve the quality of life in our community. The funds raised by the Tour of Homes go to support various projects in our neighborhood, including playground/park improvements, sidewalks, safety, traffic concerns, planning and preservation and other community efforts.

So far, 2015 ToH has raised $40,000 in sponsorships alone. This does not include tickets sales. Hopefully, Mother Nature will provide the clear skies and perfect temps to bring out tour goers. We know businesses and residents will give them a warm welcome.

Please visit our special Tour of Homes website for more detailed information on the times, the homes, the sponsors and the restaurants. There’s a map of the tour and some “teaser” pictures of our featured homes. You can purchase tickets on the website, as well.  Also follow us on Facebook for many opportunities to win gift certificates and free tickets.

This is a great weekend to kick off the holidays. TOUR, EAT and SHOP in the charming neighborhood we all call home. Remember, ToH tickets make great gifts, day dates, girls’ trips and family memories!

Hope to see you all out & about!

It’s Time for Caroling in Orme Park!

by Stephen Cohen

For several years now, neighbors have gathered around the “Christmas Critter Tree” in Orme Park on a Sunday evening to drink hot chocolate and sing carols. It’s especially magical for the children, who sit in a circle around the tree in the dusk while the adults stand behind them, and everyone sings.

The event is organized by Friends of Orme Park.

This year, the caroling is at 6:00 pm on Sunday, December 6 in Orme Park in the picnic/playground area. Bring a dessert to share. Friends of Orme Park will provide the hot chocolate.  After a short period of greeting neighbors and snacking on desserts, singing should start by 6:15.

Song Sheets
In previous years, printed song sheets have been used (which usually run out due to the growing number of attendees, and which require flashlights in the dusk). This year, however, the caroling event has gone digital! In the attached flyer, there is a link to a Google doc that will bring up the songs on your smartphone or tablet–which, of course, is backlit!

Here is a link to the flyer that contains the Google doc link and other information.

And here is a link for just the song sheet embedded in the flyer. Bring your smartphone, or, if you are really old-fashioned, print out the songsheet and bring it with you to read by flashlight–or to shine a light on it via a flashlight app on your smartphone.

Decorating the Critter Tree
Saturday we will decorate the Critter Tree – bring your little ones to decorate the tree with wildlife friendly ornaments from 10 to 11 am – fun crafts!

Stephen Cohen is the editor of the Voice.

5th Annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K on Sat, Dec 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership invites all fitness levels to participate in the 5th Annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K on Saturday, December 5th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Proceeds from the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K will benefit the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, the nonprofit organization committed to raising funds to support the Atlanta BeltLine and working with neighborhoods, community organizations, faith organizations, businesses and other groups to raise general awareness and broad-based support for the Atlanta BeltLine.

The Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K is a Peachtree Road Race qualifier and will also provide challenges to attendees showcasing the most spirit throughout the day. For the neighborhood challenge, register at and form your neighborhood team or join the team if it already exists. Register for the race, communicate with your neighborhood and show your spirit! There are 3 ways to win cash prizes: be the fastest, the largest or the most spirited. Winning teams will be announced at the end of the race, must be present to win.

For full details:

Photo courtesy via Googke images.

NPU Vote of Importance at VaHi Church this Monday Night, Nov 16

by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Planning Committee

Tomorrow night (Monday, November 16th), our local Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU-F) will meet at the Virginia-Highland Church opposite Inman Middle School for a vote on a proposed rezoning off Cheshire Bridge road in the neighborhood of Lindridge/Martin Manor (LMM). The vote will be held between 8:00 and 8:30 PM.  (Try to get there at 7:30 to sign in.) We ask that you read and consider what follows and oppose this rezoning.  (Proof of residence – a government ID or local utility bill indicating your residence in Virginia-Highland – will be needed.)

WHY THIS MATTERS  (Please bear with the alphabet soup.)

What’s proposed?
This is an attempt by Pulte Homes to rezone 17 single-family residences they have under contract on Elizabeth Ann Lane, a small cul-de-sac a block off the Cheshire Bridge/Sheridan intersection. If their rezoning request is successful, they will tear those houses down and build 89 townhomes.

It’s not in our neighborhood; how can it matter?

This proposal conflicts massively with NPU-F’s Comprehensive Development Plan (the CDP), which each neighborhood creates and revises regularly.  (NPU-F’s next major review will occur next year.)

Why does the CDP matter?

NPU-F’s CDP is the city’s master zoning and land use document.  Our recently-passed Master Plan had no conflicts with the CDP. The CDP is approved by City Council and is part of the code.  It is the basic document that guides the City of Atlanta Planning Department.

Rezonings do occur from time to time; they’re typically small changes with minimal impacts and implications. This rezoning is a very large and will have large impacts well beyond this street.

Major rezoning should be accompanied by serious independent planning studies that allow the larger community to understand and prepare for overall impacts and results.

Why is the rezoning bad for Lindridge/Martin Manor?

Pulte met with the NPU-F Zoning Committee a month ago and promised to return to the NPU-F Zoning Committee with a revised proposal that addressed many of the challenges that Lindridge/Martin Manor identified.  Instead they did not return to the neighborhood and went forward in the process for approval of the existing plan.  We were at the meeting and heard their promises. This was not anticipated by anyone, and it caught Lindridge/Martin Manor by surprise.

Lindridge/Martin Manor has several very specific arguments, and they are listed in their position paper below.  The Virginia-Highland Civic Association has several other problems with the rezoning proposal.

Why is this rezoning problematic for VaHi?

This CDP has a macro component in its approach to planning issues.  It examines overall land use, transportation (automobile, cycling, walking) impacts and alternatives, development trends, and impacts on nearby neighbors – i.e., it tries to be comprehensive. No plan solves all these problems, but a good plan anticipates and minimizes them.

If the homeowners are willing to sell, why shouldn’t this go forward?

It may be a good financial deal for those homeowners. That is their decision, and anyone can appreciate a slightly higher price.  But the way this process is being handled sets a very bad precedent for this NPU and treats the CDP as a minor position paper rather than a major planning document.

We are not suggesting that major rezonings can never occur; we are saying that major rezonings require thorough independent planning evaluations that take into account the impacts to the entire neighborhood and surrounding areas.

Is there a recent parallel in the NPU?

Last fall NPU-F opposed a similar attempt to rezone the Oak Knoll Apartments, just south of Fat Matt’s on Piedmont.  Our position then was identical; major conflicts with the CDP needed to be preceded by an independent study of large issues and should not occur merely for the convenience of the developer.

(In that instance, the NPUs recommendation of denial was followed by a compromise that was acceptable to the developer and was not inconsistent with the CDP.)

Has it applied recently in VaHi?

Yes, empathically yes. The CDP was the anchor of the recent initial discussions about the contemplated re-development at Monroe and 10th.  At the landowners’ request, those discussions are on hold, but our approach there was exactly the same; large-scale changes should be accompanied by proportionate planning studies that anticipate and prepare for outcomes beyond the borders of the development.  That future discussion will be very different if the CDP is casually changed in NPU-F.  There is no precedent for that, and it is one of the most important reasons we need to recommend denial of this proposal.

Is this just blind opposition to higher-density development by a bunch of NIMBY neighbors?

It is not; higher density development is a part of the future for all.  But it should occur in the places where neighborhoods and NPU have carefully studied and approved it.  That’s because there are significant repercussions to consider with increased density. It should occur in places that have, or will have in the near future, the infrastructure to handle all that comes with density – increased traffic, stormwater concerns, implications for adjacent properties and more.

This is not an impractical or unreasonable expectation; it was the process used in the BeltLine Subarea 6 Plan.

We hope to see you at the VaHi Church tomorrow night, where this will be discussed (beginning at 7:30) and voted upon between 8 and 8:30 PM.

Lindridge Martin Manor (LMM) Neighborhood Association Board of Directors statement about Z-15-050 (Sheridan Road/Elizabeth Ann Lane Rezoning):

It has been a longstanding policy of LMMNA and NPU-F to preserve and protect the single family R-4 zoned properties in our neighborhoods (4 houses to an acre).

The upzoning from the existing R-4 zoning category to MR-3 that Pulte is requesting has never occurred in LMM and NPU-F.

Equally troubling, is the assemblage of an entire single family neighborhood.  Allowing this to happen on Elizabeth Ann Lane/Sheridan Road creates enormous pressure on other areas in LMM, and NPU-F generally, and threatens the long term character and stability of our intown neighborhoods.

The City’s long term Comprehensive Development Plan calls for the Elizabeth Ann Lane area to remain at the current density ratio. It has never been contemplated that this area would be redeveloped at the higher densities proposed by Pulte.

The Sheridan Road/Cheshire Bridge Road area already suffers from extreme traffic congestion.  The redevelopment proposed by Pulte will make a bad situation far worse.

Although Pulte categorizes its proposal as “single family” because the 89 townhomes are intended to be occupied by individual families, the density of their proposal moves it far outside of the existing single-family density.

The existing Sheridan Road/Elizabeth Ann Lane neighborhood consists of 18 homes. Under the existing zoning the required minimum lot size is 9,000 square feet with a minimum street frontage of 70’ wide and a density ratio of .50 (50%).

Pulte’s proposal is for a multi-family zoning category (MR3) that permits 89 townhomes and a density ratio of .696 (approximately 70%)

There is a reasonable alternative, consistent with the existing single family density that would permit the residents of Elizabeth Ann Lane/Sheridan Road to sell, allow redevelopment of the existing housing stock and preserve the current single-family density ratio of .50 but allow up to 35 homes, nearly double the existing number.

This alternative would involve a rezoning to the PD-H category is consistent with other redevelopments and rezonings along Sheridan Road in the last several years and preserves the existing density of the neighborhood.

LMM is the most vulnerable of the four NPU-F neighborhoods to this type of assemblage and upzoning. If this proposal succeeds, it will be extremely difficult in the long term for LMM to prevent similar proposals in other areas of the neighborhood.  This will ultimately lead to the loss of significant parts of the Lindridge Martin Manor neighborhood.

Don’t Miss the Santa Speedo Run

by Stephen Cohen

It’s the most hilarious run of the year – the Atlanta Santa Speedo Run, a charity event that began in 2009 and is now entering its 7th year. This year, the run is raising money for BlazeSports, and it has a goal of $100,000.

I stumbled upon it one December, a few years back, when I was walking along North Highland. I watched with delighted amazement, as did many others who happened to be walking by. It was absolutely priceless, both for the runners and the spectators. Not to be missed!

In 2015, the Atlanta Santa Speedo Run is excited not only to be back on North Highland, but also to be hosting the event at Manuel’s Tavern — just before it closes for renovations.

So please join them at 2:00 PM on Saturday, December 12, 2015 at Manuel’s at 602 N Highland Ave NE. The course is 1.5 miles, and runs along North Highland from Manuel’s to Highland View and back.

For registration information, event history, and a gallery of very amusing photos from past years, visit the Atlanta Speedo Run website.

Volunteer Opportunity – Plant 150 Trees in VaHi and Morningside, Sat Nov 14

We have a volunteer opportunity to add 150 trees to our neighborhood on Saturday, November 14th (9-11am). 175 volunteers are needed to achieve this goal!

Boy Scouts of America Cub Scout Pack #17, along with the Morningside and Virginia-Highland communities and Trees Atlanta, will be planting and mulching over 150 trees in both neighborhoods. This is the 3rd consecutive year both communities have collaborated to plant & mulch new trees.

Three planting locations will be set up with tools, trees, and mulch on Saturday Nov. 14th from 9-11am. We need your hearts and muscles to make it happen!

Contact: Pierce Pape – Cub Master, Cub Scout Pack 17:

Click here for further information and to sign up online.

Tour of Homes Giveaways from Local Businesses

by Robin Ragland

Do you follow the Tour of Homes on Facebook?  Many people have discovered a wonderful facet of the Tour that’s been growing in popularity since its inception last year–giveaways from many of our sponsors.

Free tickets for the tour as well as a number of gift certificates for local businesses will be given away via the Tour’s Facebook page up until the weekend of the tour.  For example, win tickets or a gift certificate from Fit: To Be and Bla Bla Kids within the next couple of weeks.

Other giveaways include gift certificates to restaurants such as Murphy’s, Marlow’s Tavern, Highland Tap, Fontaine’s, and Diesel Filling Station.  Don’t miss out on a chance to win certificates to local businesses such as 310 Rosemont, Dakota J’s, The Great Frame-Up, and more! Here’s a link to the entire giveaway schedule–the sooner you starting following along, the more chances you have to win!

Virginia-Highland History Tour

Remember we’ve added a docent-led historical tour of the neighborhood to this year’s tour. The authors of Images of America: Virginia-Highland have planned this special tour.  Virginia-Highland is on the National Register of Historic Places and filled with great architecture and stories. Don’t miss this special opportunity to learn about its development and those who made it such a treasure. Advance ticket purchase required to sign up for the tour.

Oh – and look who’s flocking to the neighborhood for the Tour of Homes! You may see some of these flocks in various gardens around the neighborhood! Hopefully you’ll enjoy our bit of whimsy as we remind everyone it’s tour time.

Please visit our special Tour of Homes website for more detailed information on the times, the homes, the sponsors and the restaurants. Click here for information on purchasing a ticket.

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member and Co-Chair of the Tour of Homes Committee.

Volunteers Needed for 2015 Tour of Homes

by Eleanor Barrineau

One of the most helpful things you can do for your neighborhood is to volunteer at the Tour of Homes. It benefits you, too – for the Tour of Homes, you get two free tickets for working one shift in one of our beautiful neighborhood homes. And it’s a great opportunity to meet other neighbors who will be working along with you.

Our Tour is coming up on December 5th and 6th. Thanks to those neighbors who have already signed up, but we still need more volunteers.

Signing up to volunteer is easy – go to and click on the blue VolunteerSpot button.  We especially need volunteers for the afternoon shifts and for Sunday.  Volunteers who are working later shifts can pick up their tickets at John Howell Park any time during Tour hours Saturday and Sunday and can go on the Tour before their shift.

If you can’t volunteer, be sure to buy tickets and encourage your friends and neighbors to do so.  Our combination of wonderful homes and delicious food tastings is unique!  Tickets are available at

Eleanor Barrineau is the VaHi Tour of Homes Volunteer Coordinator.

Residential Overlay Zoning Exploration Continues

by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Planning Committee

The exploration of Residential Overlay Zoning for Virginia-Highland came about as a direct result of the Master Plan process. One of the top concerns of residents expressed was the impact that teardowns and rebuilds present in the redevelopment of our residential areas. You can download a copy of the Master Plan. In particular, see sections (#4.6 on page 98).

What is residential overlay zoning?

Residential overlay zoning makes existing codes more neighborhood-specific.  It is very specifically not historic district regulation. It can apply to both new construction and renovation.

What types of things would overlay zoning regulate?

Among the most common factors residents have identified are what designers call mass and scale, issues that often arise due to the relatively small size of this neighborhood’s R-4 (residential) lots.  This city’s current zoning was written three and a half decades ago; it was an improvement over what preceded it, but (among many challenges) it does not acknowledge the vast differences in the size of R-4 lots.  Structures that average 35’ high with 50% lot coverage can feel very different on a small lot than on a large one.  Relatively straightforward features like front porches, door placement, and garage siting (for example) can be the type of elements considered when approaching overlay zoning.

How would overlay zoning be enforced?

The process for residential overlay zoning functions much like existing zoning processes.  In some cases, it might lead to less process than what we have now. For example, many residents currently go through a variance process to create a second floor within the footprint of their existing home. While these are routinely approved by the city, the process itself can be expensive and add two to three months to the renovation process.  The residential overlay zoning could be created in a way that allows certain routinely-approved renovations wholly within the existing footprint to proceed without a variance, saving a bunch of time.

There are other less obvious examples too.  Builders of brand new homes are today rather ironically incentivized to follow the setback rules precisely to avoid the variance process, even when the result is a structure whose dimensions and placement do not resemble those of nearby houses in any way.  The purpose and importance of setbacks are obvious, and they will not be abandoned.  But can the letter of the law be written in a fashion that rewards and incentivizes renovations or new homes that fit in with existing conditions far better than they often do today?  It’s worth a look.

A variance process will always exist (as it does now) to address unusual or specific needs or hardships.

Your opinions and ideas are needed

As was the case with the Master Plan process, there will be varied and numerous opportunities for residents to help fashion and evaluate any new ideas. We want to hear from as many of you as possible. We’ve all had experiences with redevelopment, and all those unique perspectives will help us come up with new ideas and decide if they have value. As ideas begin to take shape, we’ll share them in ways that are easy to evaluate – providing graphics and rationales.

What to expect next

We want to keep moving, but the busy holiday season is upon us.  The first round of input will probably be electronic. With the help of our consultants, we’re creating a website that provides explanations, examples and a method for initial reactions.  The ideas you’ll see online are the result of resident input and recent sessions with local architects and builders. We’ll also include ways for you to provide any and all your ideas and insights on the site. There will be a number of public meetings open to all as the process proceeds.

Thanks for your interest. As always, if you have questions about development in the neighborhood please reach out to the Virginia-Highland Planning Committee at

{For more information please see previous article about the ongoing Residential Overlay Zoning exploration. As the process develops, we’ll continue to update you through the Voice and through a website the consultants are slowly putting together.}

2015 Inman Middle Frosty 5K returns on December 12

You’re invited to run – in Virginia-Highland and along the Beltline – to benefit Inman Middle School students and teachers. Experienced runners, beginners, and families are welcome.

Early registration is $25, ‘day of’ registration is $30. Check-in and number distribution begin at 8:00 AM at Inman on Virginia Avenue.

The race begins at 9 AM at the school and goes down the Beltline from Piedmont Park to the Old Fourth Ward Skate Park and back. Click here to view a map of the course route.

Click here for more information or to register.

New Virginia-Highland House Number Signs

by Lola Carlisle and Peggy Berg

Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) announces custom house numbers designed for Virginia-Highland. Signs are available to order here.

You can see examples of two of the new sign models at 899 Arlington Place and 1105 Rosedale Drive. The signs use elements of the latest Virginia-Highland logo and are the result of artistic collaboration between the sign makers and the logo designers.

Identifying your house with its number is an important safety concern – it helps emergency services like Police, Fire Department and Emergency Medical find your house. It also helps your friends and colleagues arrive on time for dinner parties.

The signs are made to order and we place orders in batches. Payment is needed in advance, and we will have the signs made as soon as the minimum order is reached. Of course, if we don’t reach the minimum order, your money is refundable.

The signs were showcased at Summerfest and we even noticed interest from folks in other neighborhoods, which we welcome of course. Some are purchasing signs as gifts as well.

Several folks worked on the project, including Peggy Berg, Ernest Lessinger, Brandon Patterson, Angelika Taylor and Lola Carlisle.

Lola Carlisle and Peggy Berg are VHCA Board Members.

Community Grants and Spark Choir Highlight 2015 VHCA Annual General Meeting

by Jack White

The 2015 Annual General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association was held on Thursday, September 17 at the Inman Middle School cafeteria. A variety of messages and welcomes were furnished by elected officials and their representatives, Board members were elected (you may see them and a list of officers here) and community grants were presented (more on that in a moment).

For the fourth year in a row, the evening began with a lovely and moving performance by the Springdale Park Advanced Chorus, led by Music Director Brianne Turgeon. First on the agenda and first in our hearts, the choir did a lovely presentation of half-dozen songs.  You can hear them on the meeting video here, but nothing compares to hearing them in person.  Their presence alone makes the attending the meeting worthwhile.

The business portion of the meeting may be viewed here.

Over $27,000 in community grants were presented.  Each of our three public schools got $4100 for a variety of programs – PTO support at Spark, the Girls in Engineering, Science, Math program at Inman, college counseling and theater improvements at Grady, among others.  Nonprofits and public institutions who play a major role in improving the quality of life – Trees Atlanta, PEDS, and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition – got grants, along with a donation to the Ponce de Leon library (one of the system’s busiest), which has suffered funding cuts in the last few years.  It is a pleasure to be able to support so many people who are working for the public good in this community.

All these donations were raised through the efforts of citizens in projects organized by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, primarily Summerfest and Tour of Homes.   A full list of this year’s grants – and those of the last decade, totaling over a quarter-million dollars – may be found here.   They are a very tangible manifestation of the extraordinary volunteer efforts in this community, one that we can all be proud of.

Jack White is a Board Member and President of VHCA. 

Latest Safety Report

by Peggy Berg and Jack White

Here is the latest snapshot of key statistics through August, 2015.

Reports for prior months are also available here.

APD Deputy Chief Joseph Spillane and Zone 6 Commander Timothy Peek spoke extensively about crime and APD responses to it at the October VHCA meeting. They were the evening’s first speakers; you may hear them here:

October 12, 2015: Monthly Meeting Minutes Part 1, Part 2.
Peggy Berg and Jack White are VHCA Board Members.

SPARK Kids Preparing for October 30 Fun Run

by Sara Zeigler

Once a year, SPARK students solicit donations for the PTO as part of SPARK’s Fun Run. This year’s Fun Run will be held on October 30, 2015 on the Springdale Park Elementary campus. Funds raised through the Fun Run will support a number of programs and other learning enhancements, such as writing coaching, professional development opportunities for teachers, and numerous reading and math digital curriculum tools. These curriculum resources are essential to the SPARK faculty and without the PTO’s assistance, would not be available to the students. APS does not provide for the necessary curriculum resources.

There is no door-to-door selling or delivering of products with Fun Run. Students simply gather pledges from friends, family and neighbors. Sponsors will pledge a per-lap amount or a flat donation amount towards their student. Students will typically run 30 laps (2 miles) with a lap cap of 36 at the Fun Run. Per-lap pledges will be multiplied by the number of laps run by their sponsored student, typically 30 laps or $30 for each $1 pledged per-lap. SPARK is a school that focuses on Wellness.  Parents, teachers and the students love that the Fun Run promotes physical activity and makes it easy to raise critical funds for our school.

SPARK will kick off our fundraising effort seeking pledges or flat donations for the Fun Run on Friday, October 16th.  Students will be seeking pledges and we want to encourage openness/receptivity of the neighbors to students asking for their support. Maybe even a neighbor offering to sponsor their SPARK student next door!

Also, anyone who wants to just make a donation to SPARK  can click here to pledge donations for SPARK.

Please help us raise needed curriculum funds for SPARK and keep this neighborhood gem shining brightly!

Sara Zeigler is on the SPARK PTO and is leading the Fun Run event

Trick-or-Treat in VaHi for UNICEF (Knock Music House)

by Amy Harward

As you make your Halloween plans, consider participating in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. It’s so easy and so rewarding, as this clip shows.

For the trick-or-treaters: Stop by Knock Music House before Halloween to pick up your Trick-or-Treat collection boxes. On Halloween, trick-or-treat for candy AND coins! Then you can either bring your donations back to Knock Music House to be submitted on your behalf, or you can submit your donation yourself. Easy!

For the candy givers: be prepared for our Intown kids by having your coins (and dollars!) waiting by your candy bowl.

Everyone: Spread the word! There will be plenty of boxes. The more kids participating, the better.

UNICEF is a great way for kids to help kids around the world. Trick-or-treating can be about more than just candy; it can be a time for us to teach our kids about charity and being good global citizens.

This Halloween, wouldn’t it be amazing if our Intown kids, armed with their UNICEF boxes, collected more than just candy? Can you imagine the good we could do?

Visit for more information and resources.

Visit for pick-up location and directions.

Amy Harward is a Virginia-Highland parent coordinating the UNICEF Trick-or-Treat drive for Knock Music House.

VHCA Board and General Meeting

This is the monthly combined Board and General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association. The public is invited to attend. Note: The October 12, 2015 meeting will be held at the Church of Our Saviour on N. Highland Ave. across from Fire Station #19 due to holiday closure of the public library.

Meetings are generally held on the second Monday of each month, 7:00 PM, at the public library located at 980 Ponce de Leon Ave. If the public library is not available, the meeting is generally relocated to the Church of Our Saviour on N. Highland Avenue, across the street from the fire house. Meeting relocations will be listed here and also communicated to the neighborhood via social media.


VHCA Monthly Planning Meeting

The VHCA Planning Committee meets with residents seeking zoning variance requests to discuss the impact of the variance on neighboring properties. Approval or denial recommendations are then made for consideration by the VHCA’s full board of directors.

Meetings are held at 7 PM on the Wednesday before the second Monday of every month at the Church of Our Saviour, 1068 N. Highland Ave. (across from the fire station).

Plant Swap on Elkmont Drive

Start Planning Your Spring Garden Now: Plant Swap on Oct 3

By Alice Gepp

My next door neighbor with whom I share a driveway, Sabrina Serafin, and I are hosting a plant swap on October 3rd from 11:00 to 4:00 at 684 Elkmont Drive NE, near the west end of Orme Park.

It will a fun day and we would love to have you come by at some point during the day!  It will just be a fun community gathering and we’d love see you.

We got this idea from a neighbor’s church bulletin that had a Midtown plant swap, so we thought we’d do one here for our area.

More details here.

Inman Middle School LSC Meeting

The Local School Council (LSC) for Inman Middle School is a collaborative group of parents, teachers, and business partners, whose purpose is to advise and make recommendations to the principal, local board of education and local school superintendent on matters relating to school improvement and student achievement.

The establishment of school councils, under Georgia’s A+ Education Reform Act of 2000, is intended to help local boards of education by bringing parents and the community together with teachers and school administrators to create better understanding and mutual respect for each other’s concerns.

The Inman LSC generally meets on the third Monday of every month at 4:15 PM in the Media Center. Meetings are open to all members of the Inman community.
You may contact the Local School Council at



VHCA Street Captain Meeting

The annual Virginia-Highland Street Captain meeting will be held Saturday morning September 19th from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon at Church of Our Savior church on N. Highland. Entrance to the hall is from Los Angeles. We will meet and greet from 9:40 and begin the meeting at 10:00.

This is an excellent opportunity for new street captains to learn from those who have been doing the job for many years, or for anyone interested in public safety to learn about our neighborhood watch program. All residents and businesses are welcome to attend. This year’s speakers will include Danielle Simpson to speak about Citizen’s CourtWatch, and Chad Gurley, APD detective to answer questions about his perspective on crime as a resident of the neighborhood.

VHCA Annual Meeting Election Results

Here are the results of the Board of Directors vote taken at last night’s Annual General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association. The 2015-16 members of the VHCA Board of Directors are:

Peggy Berg
David Brandenberger
Lola Carlisle
Lauren Wilkes Fralick
Paige Hewell
Jenifer Keenan
Catherine Lewis
Jenifer Keenan
Robin Ragland
Angelika Taylor (alternate)
Jack White
Jess Windham
Thanks to the residents who came out to this important annual meeting.
Here is the video:
September 17, 2015: Annual General Meeting Minutes – Business Meeting and Spark Elementary Choir Performance

Pink Barre Opening Event to Benefit North Highland Park

One of Atlanta’s top barre studios will be opening its fifth location in Virginia Highland at the intersection of Virginia and North Highland Avenue, with plans to open its doors sometime early this fall.

If you’re interested in learning more about Pink Barre and barre fitness, join Tara Joiner, the founder, for two free demo classes on 9/18 and 10/2 at 9:30am at the North Highland Park located at the corner of St. Charles and North Highland.

Barre is a high-intensity, low-impact workout that sculpts and tones the body using low-impact, high-intensity exercises.

Please bring your yoga mat and water!  Suggested donation of $15 will benefit future maintenance in beautifying this park! Reserve your mat by emailing

Let’s pack the park and support greenspace preservation in VaHi!  For more information, please visit or

VHCA Street Captain Meeting Sat Sep 19

by Peggy Berg and Eleanor Barrineau

The annual Virginia-Highland Street Captain meeting will be held Saturday morning September 19th from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon at Church of Our Savior church on N. Highland. Entrance to the hall is from Los Angeles. We will meet and greet from 9:40 and begin the meeting at 10:00.

This is an excellent opportunity for new street captains to learn from those who have been doing the job for many years, or for anyone interested in public safety to learn about our neighborhood watch program. All residents and businesses are welcome to attend. This year’s speakers will include Danielle Simpson to speak about Citizen’s CourtWatch, and Chad Gurley, APD detective to answer questions about his perspective on crime as a resident of the neighborhood.

Peggy Berg is a VHCA Board Member and she chairs the Safety Committee. Eleanor Barrineau, a long-time resident, is on the VHCA Safety Committee.

Streets Alive Returns on Sept. 27 (N. Highland Closed South of Virginia)

By Jess Windham

Atlanta Streets Alive returns to North Highland Avenue on Sunday, Sept. 27th from 2:00 pm-6:00 pm. Road closures begin at 1:00 pm and end at 7:30 pm.

North Highland, Boulevard, and North Ave will again host this popular event. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and its partners will close the streets to cars and create a space for people-powered transportation, with fun activities for all ages and spaces to engage in a healthy way with your surrounding community.

With over 100,000 people attending in 2014, this event enables us to re-imagine our streets and the way we get around town. Bring your bicycle or just your feet, and get ready to explore your community streets in a safer, healthier, more livable way.

Here is an overview of Streets Alive.

Here is a link specific to the street closings on September 27.

Jess Windham is on the VHCA Board and Planning Committee.

Tea or High Tea: A Visit to Tipple + Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary

By Peggy Berg
Tea or High Tea? Yes, please!

Tipple + Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary offers tea and high tea, and there is a difference.

Tea is that lovely beverage you sip hot or cold. Tipple + Rose has 84 varieties and there is a menu with details like ingredients and caffeine levels, plus there is a sniff-bar to give you a preview before you make your final choice. Seasonal teas will be a coming attraction, and chai will be a unique house blend made on site. A special hot water machine adjusts the temperature to optimize the flavor of each individual tea. And all teas can be iced. Tea is available to take home, sit and sip, or enjoy with a scone, slice of cake, or sandwich.

High tea is a ritual: it’s a cultured midday offering of special savories, like cucumber tea sandwiches, quiche, scones with clotted cream and lemon curd.  An assortment of treats comes on a 3-tiered cake stand and is served with tea. For occasions when you want to savor high tea, Tipple and Rose serves from 2:30 to 5:30, but reservations are required. They need a little notice to make all those delectable bites fresh.

Whether you come for tea or high tea, the scones are homemade and delicious. An assortment of cakes from Southern Sweets is ready to serve by the slice for dessert or after theater. Quiches and sandwiches are also homemade and offered for brunch and lunch. Breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon delights, and evening dessert are available. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm.

The Apothecary aspect of the shop includes special bath and tea items and vintage mercantile. Doria calls it comestible gifting, so enjoy for gifts or indulgence.

The proprietors of Tipple and Rose, Doria Roberts (pictured) and Calavino Donati, met in Virginia-Highland and are delighted to have moved back into the neighborhood recently to live and build their new business. Meet Doria as she talks about the essential ingredients for an ideal neighborhood store on TEDX.

Tipple and Rose Tea Parlor 806 North Highland Avenue near Greenwood; 678.705.7995

Peggy Berg is a VHCA Board Member.

Virginia-Highland Business Owner Meet & Greet

The Virginia-Highland Business Association (VHBA) is holding a Meet & Greet for the Virginia-Highland business community on September 22 at Atkins Park Restaurant & Bar. Whether you’re a already a member or interested in hearing more about VHBA, we’d love to see you. We’ll also talk about opportunities to showcase your local business.

Join us for coffee on Tuesday, September 22nd at 8:30 AM at Atkins Restaurant & Bar. The meeting will officially begin at 9:00 AM.

Learn more about the association at

VaHi: Loved to Death

by Jack White

Virginia-Highland’s Master Plan became part of the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan in July of 2014. The plan was the result of a great deal of work in the community. Click here to see the Plan.

The initiatives in the Master Plan cover a wide range of topics and challenges. A few – like installing storm drain signage (“Only rain in this drain”) – need only coordination with the appropriate municipal agency. Some are longer-range planning issues awaiting full funding – the bike lanes along Kanuga Street and Virginia Avenue and supporting the Monroe Drive Complete Streets program. (Fixing Fire Station 19 was such a given that it didn’t make the plan.)

The Master Plan referred some topics for further study. Those include the concerns that citizens voiced during that process about the impacts of neighborhood redevelopment, often expressed as the fear of losing the very characteristics that made this community so attractive in the first place. (“VaHi is being loved to death” was a popular line.)

In the past, the only City of Atlanta mechanism for addressing such challenges was historic designation (“HD”), which was what the Atkins Park section of VaHi adopted after a nice discussion several years ago. Atkins Park was built as one subdivision over a few years, and HD appears to have worked well for them, as it has in several other neighborhoods.

Last fall some VaHi citizens organized their own look at HD for other portions of the neighborhood. That idea predictably produced both support and opposition; even more interestingly, it focused attention on another, more flexible approach (sometimes called – among other terms- an Urban Design District) that some planners and city officials suggested might be useful for neighborhoods like Virginia-Highland.

Such a concept isn’t new to the metro area; Hapeville and Roswell have versions. Such plans can be as simple as identifying five to ten special elements that typify a community: garage placements, front porches, height and lot coverage requirement, et al. Or they can address scale instead of specific design; it depends on what any given neighborhood’s defining features are and what the residents think is important.

Nomenclature aside, the question is whether any approach can be found that identifies and describes common construction elements – both ones that are widely desired and widely disliked – in a manner that both allows homeowners the flexibility to effectively and innovatively renovate and still preserve the essential characteristics of VaHi. Are there guidelines that work and still allow for the inevitably needed exceptions?

It’s a question worth asking and answering for several reasons. The first has already been mentioned; it was a very common comment in the Master Plan process.The second is that the current code is a mess. A large percentage of houses in our neighborhood do not conform to their own current zoning, a result that shreds the underlying logic of the approach and creates so many time-consuming variances that even the city has acknowledged that the entire zoning code needs to be re-written.

We welcome the idea (it’s way overdue), but that very lengthy process will not address the concerns our own residents have identified. If this neighborhood has certain features that deserve to be protected, there is no group more likely to know them than our own citizens.

We are living  – and have lived – with design overlays for years, mostly without knowing it. VaHi’s commercial areas along North Highland have a zoning overlay: the Neighborhood Commercial (“NC”) districts. They allow flexibility in rebuilding and expansion (including building a full-story higher than current conditions) while maintaining many of the characteristics we associate with the area today:  street-facing entrances, shop windows, walkable sidewalks, active street life, etc. The BeltLine overlay addresses similar features.

The VHCA board has asked Canvas Planning Group to lead an examination of potential responses to the redevelopment challenges that citizens have raised. Canvas’ founder, Aaron Fortner, has consulted with Virginia-Highland on several initiatives, including NC (Neighborhood Commercial), development at 10th and Monroe, the Master Plan, and many other related topics.  All of his outreach work has been characterized by a measured pace and the inclusion of citizens in the process; it’s one of many such things he does very effectively.

As ever, deliberative and reflective will be the order of the day.  Nothing else would match the democratic tradition in this neighborhood, or be effective in the end – nor has any board ever approached such challenges in any other way. The last two processes in VaHi –  the Master Plan and the Neighborhood Commercial (NC) process – illustrate the process. There were a ton of chances and ways to be involved; that will be the case here too. The content of both ideas evolved and changed along the way; that’s what happens when there is good engagement on things that folks care about.

Beginning with analysis and discussion means something else, too: there are no pre-determined proposals or outcomes. Whatever the end product, the process itself is certain to produce a vastly better understanding and appreciation of what makes this community unique and special. We look forward to that part with confidence and optimism.

Jack White is a VHCA Board Member and Planning Committee Member.

Why I Serve on the VHCA Board (and Why I Don’t Like Social Media)

by Jenifer Keenan

I have been a proud member of the VHCA Board for three years.  People often ask why I do this “thankless job” and the answer is always the same – I love Virginia-Highland and want to give back to our great neighborhood.  The things that VHCA and the hundreds of volunteers who support VHCA accomplish are pretty amazing – we put on Summerfest and the Tour of Homes, meet with home owners and neighbors on all construction variances, coordinate and finance major improvements to John Howell Park, funded over $100,000 in grants to the public schools in our neighborhood, and own and maintain North Highland Park.

VHCA also acts as a liaison (or instigator!) for projects big and small, whether it’s working with the city on one-sided parking for a narrow residential street, improving sidewalks, requesting (and getting) weed abatement from the City for our neighborhood and surrounding areas, facilitating safety improvements on our streets, organizing and funding supplemental clean-up and maintenance of our business districts, helping with runoff from poorly regulated construction projects, spearheading efforts to preserve the fire station on North Highland, leading the Master Plan, meeting with all kinds of city agencies, or helping neighbors with concerns about renovation and development occurring in our neighborhood.

In spite of all of these wonderful accomplishments, “the Board” is often criticized or attacked on social media.  In my role as a Board Member, I have been accused on social media (never in person or on the phone) of “pursuing my own agenda” – a particularly strange claim given that I don’t have an “agenda” for our neighborhood.  And recently, someone on social media even suggested that the Board members should be sued for voting on, and approving (at a meeting that was open to the public) an expenditure for a project to explore the development of design guidelines/overlay for VaHi.

Rather than asking “what is a design overlay,” people assumed that it was the same as historic designation.  And although a few vocal voices on social media claim that “the majority of the neighborhood” is vehemently against any building restrictions or development guidelines, the emails and calls that the Board constantly receives asking us to “do something to fight the McMansion going up next to my house” or “prevent the modern design proposed by my neighbor” show otherwise.  In fact, during the Master Planning process, more people said that the destruction of historic properties/in-fill development is the biggest challenge facing our neighborhood than any other issue.

And yet, all of this really misses the point, because the Board has not proposed any guidelines – we have hired a consultant to explore the possibility of guidelines.  Why not simply ask for more information on this, or any other of the dozens of projects undertaken by VHCA, rather than accusing the Board on social media of pursuing some nefarious agenda?  At this point, the consultant has merely taken an inventory of existing structures in VaHi.  If, and when, any guidelines are developed, they will go through the same process used for the Master Plan – there will be a series of small meetings and large public meetings and various opportunities to determine if guidelines are appropriate, and if so, what those guidelines should be.

The Board has also been accused of “doing things in secret” – a claim that I find particularly disturbing given all of our efforts to keep the neighborhood abreast of all VHCA activities.   During the Master Plan process, I personally wrote six articles for The Voice, as well as attended over a dozen meetings on the Master Plan.  Furthermore, all of our Board meetings are videotaped, and all committee and board meetings are open to the public.  Remarkably, there has even been criticism of our use of videotaped minutes of our meetings, even though videotape minutes certainly provide a more complete picture of what transpired at the meeting than the cursory summary that is typically found in written minutes.

I often invite these critics of VHCA and the Board to sign up for a VHCA committee or attend a VHCA meeting, and am always met with the same refrain:  “I don’t have time.”  I don’t have time either.  I’m a full time lawyer at a large law firm, mother to two wonderful daughters at SPARK, and a wife to a busy marketing professional.  And yet, I make time.  I can’t even count the number of times I have brought my daughters to VHCA meetings when my husband has been traveling or at work, but I have done it because VaHi is important to me and I want to show my daughters that I am willing to be a leader and work to make our neighborhood a better place.

Before you go onto social media and chastise “the Board” or suggest that we should be sued for taking a position that you may personally disagree with, I suggest you take a step back and remember that we are your neighbors and are all volunteers who are trying to do our best for the neighborhood.  Come to a meeting and meet us, or give us a call if you have questions . . . that is certainly more effective – and a lot more neighborly – than complaining about us on social media.

Jenifer Keenan is a VHCA Board Member and she chairs the Planning Committee.

Latest Monthly Safety Report

by Peggy Berg

VHCA’s monthly safety reports track crime incidents reported by the Atlanta Police Department for Zone 6, Beat 601 (Virginia-Highland). Here is the July 2015 Safety Report.

The number of incidents reported by category for July is shown in the first section of the report.

The second section shows trends for the categories with the most incidents by month for 2015, with a comparison to the average for the past 5 years.

The third section shows year-to-date trends over the past 5 years for the same three categories.

Peggy Berg is a member of the VHCA Safety Committee and Board. Thanks to Shannon Mehl and Holly Lybeer for creating the Safety Stats Report.

2015-16 VHCA Board of Directors Candidate Bios

board_peggyPeggy Berg

I moved to Virginia Highland in 1984 and have a home, rental property and had a business in the neighborhood. My husband and I raised our two sons here and I served on PTAs for Morningside Elementary, Inman Middle and Grady High Schools. We have always been active in our neighborhood.

Our family is in the hotel business (we own the Hampton Inn Northlake Mall) and I have also been a partner in a consulting firm and an international CPA firm. I have a strong business background. I have chaired several industry and professional organizations. I recently completed a Masters degree from Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy.

I believe that our individual involvement is what makes our neighborhood such a good place to live so I served on the VHCA Board in 2012 and 2013. I work on sidewalks and streets. This year, the City has responded to requests from us with regard to pedestrian signs, street signs, traffic lights and other maintenance items on the streets. We have also been working on a program to improve sidewalks in Virginia Highland and expect to have 227 sidewalk segments replaced by year-end with collaborative funding from VHCA, the City and property owners.

David_BrandenbergerDavid Brandenberger

I have been a Virginia-Highland homeowner on Rosedale Road for fifteen years. I, my wife and my son, truly love our neighborhood and are committed to supporting, preserving and enhancing its character.

Since living in Virginia-Highland, I have been active with various local activities, including helping to organize block parties, street yard sales, volunteering at SummerFest and the Tour of Homes, and—at various times—working with the City, DeKalb County and other adjoining neighbors to try to remedy various rainwater and sewer-related runoff issues of concern to several homeowners on our street. I have a keen interest in preserving our unique intown neighborhood and the quality of life for all residents it provides.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with family, gardening, cooking, coaching my son’s soccer team and enjoying our awesome neighborhood and surrounding communities. While serving on the Board this past year, I have had the pleasure to serve on the VHCA Planning Committee and the Parks Committee. I have been involved with and participated particularly in the ongoing renovation work started prior to my time on the Board at the West end of John Howell Park (volleyball court area) and look forward to helping to manage a successful project completion in the near term.

Looking forward, I would like to focus my efforts on the Board specifically with the Parks Committee—where I would be pleased to work with the rest of the Board on other ‘parks and youth sports field-related’ improvements to the neighborhood at John Howell Park, North Highland Park, Orme Park, and potentially the Inman Middle School fields.

Ultimately, I am eager to be of service wherever needed most upon being re-elected and am always open to communication and thoughts from neighborhood residents.  I appreciate your support.

TRP_Lola_pic_croppedLola Carlisle 

I am currently on the VHCA board. I have volunteered with various organizations in Virginia-Highland since 1997. My husband, Tom Beisel, and I have lived in Virginia-Highland at 1030 N. Virginia Ave. since 1993, and are the second family to live at this address! We have a daughter who is 17 years old and has taken advantage of the amazing quality of life we all enjoy here in Virginia-Highland.

Over the years I’ve volunteered with VHMPA, VHCA History & Preservation efforts, PLAN – reporting to the City of Atlanta from Virginia-Highland as the zoning code was revised, the VHCA Planning Committee and various fundraising efforts of VHCA. Having a passion for preservation, I co-authored Images of America – Virginia–Highland history book with Karri Hobson-Pape. The Virginia-Highland History Center, while looking for a better permanent home, is housed at my offices – Tailfin Marketing. Feel free to stop by and talk history.

I hope to continue working with the planning and preservation committees helping to ensure that development in the area supports the neighborhood’s vision. Through proper planning and oversight, Virginia-Highland can represent the best Atlanta has to offer in a vibrant intown neighborhood.

Emily_GilbertEmily Gilbert

I am an attorney who graduated from Emory and Georgia State Law School and has lived in this city for almost two decades. I moved to Virginia-Highland because I appreciate its great mix of homes and businesses, both of which are important. This community is unique and vibrant, and I want it to stay that way. While the Civic Association has accomplished a lot, there are even more things it can do, and I hope to be part of that.


angelika and flowers 4584x6Angelika Hedlund Taylor

Hi…I’m Angelika Taylor. My husband Joe and I moved to Virginia-Highland four years ago with our girls Ally, 16, and Kenzie, 14, to start a new life in the city! Two years ago, we welcomed a baby boy named Jack into our family.

We jumped right into Virginia-Highland headfirst. We bought a house in desperate need of love and affection. I have owned my own business as an interior designer for 14 years. Together, my husband and I run our own company, Taylor and Taylor Homes. We have a passion for renovating homes, selling them and changing neighborhood streets, one house at a time.

Our family is committed to our neighborhood and community. Our girls have both gone through Inman Middle School and are now at Grady High, and Jack attends International Pre School. We believe in shopping local and we can often be spotted at many of the restaurants, bars and shops around VaHi.

Three years ago I took on the challenge of chairing the Tour of Homes committee for the VHCA. TOH is the neighborhood’s second largest fundraiser and, since I’ve chaired the event, proceeds from the tour have grown from $15,000 to over $50,000.  This year should be even better.

If elected to the VHCA board, I’d like to continue my leadership of the Tour of Homes committee, and also look forward to finding new ways to serve the residents of the community that my family and I have grown to love so much.

PicCivicAssocPaige Hewell

I have lived in the neighborhood on Virginia Circle for over a decade. A native Atlantan, I grew up in Buckhead and had little exposure to Va-Hi. I truly love our community and sometimes can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of it. Leon, my puppy, is loving the neighborhood as well.

My professional background is marketing. I worked primarily in telecom for 10 years before following an old boss to healthcare. I’ve loved the challenges and education I’ve gained from the switch.

Though a latecomer to neighborhood volunteerism, I have really enjoyed working on the Summerfest organization committee. I became involved in many activities that I had never imagined I would, such as appearing in a TV promo and even fence building. I’ve gotten to know some great people whom I might not have met otherwise. I’ve loved every minute of it.

I look forward to continuing my involvement with Summerfest and serving on the board of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association.

Karri Hobson-Pape 2Karri Hobson-Pape

In my opinion, few other communities can compare to Virginia-Highland.  We live in a truly special place.  I enjoy walking in the early morning with my dog and neighbor, sipping my ‘special blend’ at San Fran Coffee, celebrating with family in our parks and indulging in great meals with friends at our wide variety of fabulous options.  I have lived more than 20 years (shocking!) here and could envision myself enjoying another 20 years in the future..

During the time I’ve lived here, I have been involved in a variety of volunteer activities – from Trees Atlanta plantings to Girl Scouts.  Where possible, I have always worked to apply my professional experience in marketing and strategy to our neighborhood needs.  About 15 years ago, my husband and I started the Virginia-Highland Summerfest Road Race, which has turned into a positive revenue generator for the neighborhood.  In the last 10 years more of my time has been dedicated to the local school system, where I have served on the SPARK PTO and SPARK Local School Council.

In my consulting practice and in life, I believe that understanding the genesis of an area or organization always guides the most strategic choices.  Furthermore, in every place that I have lived in my life, I have always searched to better understand who walked the land before me. In 2012, I co-authored “Images of America: Virginia-Highland” with Lola Carlisle and the help of a lot of remarkable people in our community.  Through the process, I learned many beautiful stories about what ties the people of VaHi together.  I care about historic preservation and making sure that these stories and memories are passed on to our next generation.

Keenan-jeniferJenifer Keenan

I am a mom, wife, lawyer, and community activist who has lived in Virginia Highland for 11 years. I take great pride in our neighborhood and have been an active neighborhood advocate on the BeltLine and important neighborhood issues.

I served as the Secretary of NPU-F for 7 years and have been a VHCA Board member for 3 years. My service as NPU Secretary and on the VHCA Board has allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the issues facing our neighborhood and the most effective ways to deal with those challenges. My neighbors, friends, work colleagues and fellow NPU and VHCA board members would all describe me as a “go-getter” – when I see something that needs to be improved or changed, I work hard to make it happen!

Since my election to the VHCA board in 2012, I  have primarily served on the Planning Committee. In 2013-2014, I was the co-chair of the VHCA Master Plan submcommittee. The comprehensive Master Plan addresses many of the most important topics facing our community, including zoning and development, historic preservation, traffic, parks and open space, environmental issues. I look forward to serving on the Board for 2015 – 2016 term and plan to focus on implementing the Master Plan and the challenges posed by increased development in our neighborhood.

Catherine_LewisCatherine Lewis

I have lived in Virginia Highland since 1995; and in our house on Lanier Boulevard since 1998. I’m an alumna of Emory University and have been in Atlanta since 1986. I hope to serve the VHCA by helping to coordinate the community effort as we begin to renovate the No. 19 Fire Station. This is such an important local resource, and many of us are committed to making sure it remains a vibrant part of our neighborhood. This is a big project; one in which the VHCA has played a central role. In my worklife, I am the Assistant Vice President of Museums, Archives & Rare Books at Kennesaw State University and the Bobby Jones Curator and Special Projects Coordinator at the Atlanta History Center. Our family is very committed to the historic fabric of this neighborhood and hope to help it continue to grow and thrive. You will see my husband, John, and daughter, Emma on a bicycle, on foot, or on a razor scooter in the neighborhood. I would be honored to serve the neighborhood with this very dedicated group of friends and colleagues.

RBR-VHCARobin Ragland

After joining my husband in retirement in 2006, we relocated to Virginia-Highland from Gwinnett County. We arrived just in time to enjoy our first Dogwood Festival as locals, relax with our new Elmwood neighbors at the annual street party, and volunteer for, as well as have a blast at, our first Summerfest! I soon lost count of how many times we said “what took us so long to move here” while walking to local restaurants and shops. It quickly became apparent that a key component to keeping our neighborhood so vibrant is the continued contributions of volunteers organized and focused through the VHCA.

I’ve continued to volunteer for Summerfest each year in various capacities. In 2012, I began participating in fundraising for the neighborhood by creating items to sell from recycled Summerfest t-shirts. I joined the Tour of Homes committee in 2013, chairing the sponsorship sub-committee; we raised over $30,000! The tour committee is in the midst of preparing for the 2014 tour, and my sub-committee is once again on track to raise another $30,000 for the neighborhood. We are eager to show off our neighborhood during the 2014 tour, and create another great tour next year! I also look forward to expanding my participation in the VHCA by joining the board.

IMG_2755Jack White 

When my (then four-year old) daughter and I moved from Midtown to Virginia-Highland in 1984, we were the two youngest people on the half-block.  If I am not now the oldest, I’m pretty close. My particular interests are planning, parks, and public resources, particularly stormwater and stream issues, a field in which I’ve worked for several decades. Our neighborhood schools that both my kids attended are pretty high on the list too.

I’m grateful for the Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s role in helping shape the history of the community.  If the residents of the late 60’s and early 70’s hadn’t organized and stood together with their allies to the north and south, it’s very likely that most of us wouldn’t be living in – and might not even recognize – this neighborhood today.  The idea of a huge interstate highway cleaving the Old Fourth Ward, clipping the Inman School parking lot, splitting Orme Park, and blasting through our neighborhood and Morningside seems even more preposterous in retrospect than it did then, but it almost happened.

Since then the neighborhood has flourished and matured; today we are trying to keeping the community vibrant while retaining its unique character. Three decades ago auto traffic wasn’t an issue; today the growing number of cyclists and pedestrians challenge us to find a way to safely accommodate multiple uses. Three decades ago the battles felt very uneven: it was our wits and our determination versus traditional political forces.  It’s helpful that we can now afford learned professional consultants, but in the end, the determination of the citizenry and the Civic Association’s organizational capacity are still the most important assets we have.  Together, they can be very effective.

I’d be glad to serve another year.

Lauren Wilkes FralickLauren Wilkes Fralick 

Lauren and her husband Frank moved to the neighborhood in 2011. They live on Highland View with their dog Abner. Lauren works in Government Relations for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. On the weekends, you may find her working on one of the many “do it yourself” projects they have going on at their home.

Lauren has been a board member for two years and has been a driving force on the Parks Committee. Lauren looks forward to another year serving the neighborhood.

Jess at 4th and SwiftJess Windham

For about the last three years – even before officially moving in – I have been active with the neighborhood Civic Association, primarily through the VHCA Planning and the Master Plan creation process. My role in that process was to keep everything on the rails: organizing and communicating the public meeting schedule, sharing information and clarifying inaccuracies, coordinating the steering committee, and feeling out consensus every step of the way. 

Since the Master Plan was adopted by council, I have been focusing on the implementation of the highest priority items outlined in the Master Plan. This has involved follow up with various city departments and nonprofits. I’m excited to be part of a vibrant urban community with a rich diversity of residents and incredible history. Currently I’m also serving as ambassador between the neighborhood and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for the Atlanta Streets Alive event in September.

In terms of style, I have a diplomatic approach, a true desire to contribute, and would appreciate the opportunity to serve the neighborhood. I’d like to continue to be involved on the board so that I can support the neighborhood with broad initiatives, from master planning to fundraising for our parks. Having served on the Planning Committee, I understand the time, patience, and dedication needed to create positive changes that keep the neighborhood vibrant. Change is inevitable and the desirability of VaHi is only going to grow. I’d like to be on the board to ensure the character and quality of life in Virginia-Highland continues to get better each year.


Bob Coomes: A Life Well-Lived

Bob Headshot for ObitBy John Becker

Editor’s Note: John Becker is a former VHCA board member and Voice editor who recently moved to Poncey-Highland. John remains involved in the neighborhood and is a close friend of the Coomes family.

Longtime Virginia-Highland resident Bob Coomes passed away recently, finally succumbing to the cancer monster he fought for an incredible seventeen years.

Bob was that rare individual who always had a smile on his face and never met a person he didn’t like – and the feeling was almost always mutual. His constantly upbeat spirit and can-do attitude were infectious and an inspiration to many who stood by him during his long and often difficult battle with the disease that ultimately took his life.

Bob, who would have been 64 in October, shared his love of people with his undying love for dogs. He could often be seen walking his chocolate lab mix Fudge along the sidewalks of VaHi. After a successful professional career that included a 27-year stint with AT&T, Bob and his wife Nancy formed a business around their creation of LickALots, a healthy frozen treat for dogs. LickALots was as much a labor of love for Bob and Nancy as it was a business.

4434_86331041772_4641705_nBob had a sense of community and was always willing to roll up his sleeves and get involved. In addition to volunteering for seventeen years with Meals on Wheels, Bob served several years on the VHCA board, was at one time editor of The Voice newsletter and volunteered with Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful. In recent years Bob and his wife Nancy devoted their time and talents to making the Saturday morning Tot Trot one of Summerfest’s most anticipated events. Bob was the consummate Tot Trot master of ceremonies.

No description of Bob would be complete without mentioning that he was a passionate and knowledgeable sports fan. The Atlanta Braves and Louisville Cardinals lost some major fan mojo with Bob’s passing.

A service in Bob’s memory will be held at Morningside Presbyterian Church (1411 N. Morningside Dr.) at 3 PM on Thursday, September 10th. Anyone wishing to celebrate the life of Bob Coomes is welcome to attend.

Bob Coomes’ full obituary follows.

473504_10150598685126773_1227160640_oBob (Robert T.) Coomes, with his bright smile, enthusiasm, and optimistic spirit is in heaven now.  His 17 year battle with renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) was epic. As he had wished, Bob was at his home in Atlanta when he died on August 17, 2015.  He was 63.

The Service to give thanks and celebrate Bob’s life will be held on Thursday, September 10, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. at Morningside Presbyterian Church.  The Church is located at 1411 N. Morningside Dr. NE in Atlanta, GA 30306 (  A reception at the Church will follow the service.

Bob loved dearly his father, Thomas Coomes (deceased), his mother, Agnes Coomes, his wife, Nancy Phillips Coomes, his daughter, Chelsea Coomes, and his siblings, Barbara Coomes(Jim Johnson), Rick Coomes (Sally), Pat Coomes (Nanci) and their families, as well as his sister-by-marriage, Gena (Demaree) Jones.  Throughout his life he was surrounded and sustained by the strong bonds of a large extended family, many dear and supportive friends and neighbors and a strong church family.  He treasured being known as “Bobby”, “Brother Bob”, “Dad”, “Uncle Bob”, “Cousin Bob”, “Neighbor Bob”, “Friend Bob” and “Beer Rat Bob”.   To Nancy, he was “Puffy”.  To his beloved dogs, Kisses (deceased), Fudge and Chris, with whom he had a close and special bond, he was “Daddy Bob”.

Bob was a proud native of Louisville, Kentucky and lived there until 1988 when he relocated to Atlanta.  He held a masters degree in electrical engineering from the University of Louisville and was a loyal supporter of the school throughout his life.  His professional career included 27 years as a manager with AT&T.   In more recent years, he partnered with Nancy to create a healthy treat for dogs called LickALots.  That business was sold to King of Pops in 2010.  The product continues to be manufactured, sold and enjoyed by dogs throughout the Eastern United States.

Bob volunteered his time to the Meals on Wheels program for 17 years. He not only delivered food to the seniors he served, he brought them cheer with his sincere interest in their lives.  He formed friendships and lasting bonds that were very important to him.

Bob and JohnBob participated as a volunteer for programs sponsored by the Virginia Highland Civic Association in an effort to give back to the community he called home.

In his battle with kidney cancer, Bob focused on being Empowered, Educated and Engaged.  He studied in great detail the development and availability of new treatments, their side effects, and potential benefit.   He worked in close partnership with his physicians and care-giving teams to select and follow treatment plans that had the greatest potential efficacy for him.

He joined the M.D. Anderson Network for patient and caregiver support in 2002.  This group of volunteers, who are current and former cancer patients, are available to talk with someone with cancer who has had a similar diagnosis or treatment as the volunteer. Bob spoke with dozens of patients in an effort to help them and their loved ones make the transition from diagnosis to survivorship.

In 2004, Bob became a patient advocate for one of the National Cancer Institute’s Cooperative Groups that develop and implement cancer clinical trials.  Patient advocates include survivors who provide input to the cancer clinical research process.  They remain current on new treatment research and ultimately ensure that the patients’ perspectives and needs are at the center of clinical trial decisions. 

Those wishing to honor Bob via donations can send checks made payable to First Presbyterian Church Atlanta with the designation that the money is for the “Meals on Wheels Program in memory of Bob Coomes”.  Envelopes should be addressed to:

First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta

Attn: Meals on Wheels Program

1328 Peachtree St.

Atlanta, GA 30309-3209

New Monthly Snapshot of Crime Statistics in VaHi

by Peggy Berg

Did you know that the VHCA website carries a running report of crime statistics in our area?

We have just revamped the monthly report to make it easier to read.

Here is the link.

You will note that Auto Larceny continues to lead the way by far. People are often confused about the differences among robbery, burglary and larceny, so here are the distinctions.

Robbery is taking something from someone using intimidation, force, or threat. In order for robbery to take place, a victim (or multiple victims) must be present at the scene.

Burglary is unlawful entry to a structure to commit theft or a felony. A victim does not have to be present, but a structure – which includes business offices, personal homes, and
even external sheds – must be involved.

Confusingly, Burglary is not the term used for crimes committed on cars. See below.

Larceny is similar to Burglary, but without the element of a structure. The exception to this rule is the burglary of a motor vehicle, which is referred to as larceny. Under all conditions–whether a vehicle is left with the doors locked or unlocked, the windows are open or not, or the security system is or is not engaged–vehicle burglary crimes are referred to as larceny.

Peggy Berg is a member of the VHCA Safety Committee and Board.

Thanks to Shannon Mehl and Holly Lybeer for the Safety Stats Report.

VHCA Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers set for September 17

by Lola Carlisle

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s annual general meeting and election of officers will be held Thursday September 17th in the Inman Middle School cafeteria, starting at 6:30 PM. Please be sure to bring your ID or recent utility bill in your name as proof of residency. Regular civic association business will be conducted at the VHCA’s monthly board and general meeting to be held September 14 at 7:00 PM at the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave.

The VHCA board consists of ten members and one alternate who are elected to one-year terms by residents at the annual meeting. There’s also an ‘Atkins Park designee’ board member who is chosen by the Atkins Park Homeowners Association prior to the annual meeting.

The alternate member has historically functioned as a full board member, but formally votes only if another member is not present. The VaHi resident getting the fewest votes of the top eleven residents receiving votes in the election serves as the alternate member.

Our neighborhood thrives because of a high level of volunteer involvement by residents in a variety of areas. The framework for much of this volunteerism is provided through VHCA’s committees: Budget, Fundraising (Summerfest, Tour of Homes), Planning, Preservation and History, Parks, Safety, Education and Communications.  Click here for a complete list of the association’s committees, their areas of responsibility and their current chairs/members.

Click here for a list of those serving on the current VHCA board. Any of these board members would be glad to talk with you about the responsibilities and time commitments associated with board service and will be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Many citizens reach the board after serving on a committee, but this is not a specific requirement for running.  If you’d like to run for a seat on the board, please send an email to with your name, contact info, a short bio, and a few comments on how and why you’d like to get involved. A list of all residents running for the board with bios will be published on and included in The Voice e-newsletter prior to the September 17 annual meeting.

We encourage all VaHi residents to attend the annual meeting and make your voice heard. Again, please be sure to bring your ID or recent utility bill in your name as proof of residency. The more residents we have at the meeting, the more the VHCA’s 2015-16 leadership will reflect the collective thoughts and goals of our community.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our annual meeting in September.

Lola Carlisle is a member of the VHCA Board.

What is Hillside? – Part 2

by Stephen Cohen

Conclusion of a 2-Part Series

In the August 1 edition of The Voice, I described how, after 32 years of driving by Hillside at the bottom of Courtney Drive and wondering what it was, I was recently taken on a tour and discovered that it is a 13-acre residential campus, right on our doorstep, offering services for children and adolescents who have emotional and behavioral issues.

It doesn’t look like a psychiatric facility. The intent is for kids to arrive onto a cheerful and inviting campus that is a place of growth and healing.

The need for community support
The Manager of Community Relations, Katrina Word, and the Director of Business Development, Mark Pulliam, explained more about Hillside’s place in our community, including the kind of help they need, and how they have recently expanding their offerings.

Since not all parents have the resources to pay all the costs, even when insurance provides coverage, community support from citizens is a real need, and this support can take the form of donating time, items, or funds.

Let’s take as an example the community garden, which is filled with herbs, vegetables, and flowers. The children work in it alongside a horticulture therapist, planting food that they then harvest and take to the Dining Hall for preparation.

“When I was growing up,” observed Mark, “I used to sit and stare at the green beans on my plate, refusing to eat them. These kids now will just pick the vegetables right off the plant and sample them to see what they grew tastes like, and learn to make healthy choices when eating.”

(It is worth noting that apart from incorporating life sciences into the gardening, such as using marigolds as natural pesticides, there are bigger lessons that the children learn, too, as they struggle to find their feet: growth is not instantaneous, either for the plants or the children; it requires patience and painstaking effort.)

There is more work to do in the garden than the children have time for, so one way volunteers could help would be to work in the garden to supplement those efforts.

Volunteering time could also take the form of such activities as sorting incoming clothes in the clothing center, or maybe helping out on campus with sports, art, or other recreational activities.

Donations can be in the form of either funds or needed items, which may be as small as teddy bears for children, or fleeces for adolescents, that can provide comfort at that time of night when we settle in to bed and the anxieties start to crowd in on us.

For more information how you can support Hillside by donating time, items, or funds, click here. You may also call Katrina Word at 404-875-4551 x 321.

Some donation examples:
* Rated G and PG movies for their lending movie library
* E-rated video games for PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii
* Board Games
* Puzzles
* Finger paints and craft items
* Canvas and sketch paper
* Books (series for young adults)
* Fleece blankets
* New stuffed animals

Examples of  volunteer opportunities:
* Help in the on-campus clothing store
* After-school clubs (rotating schedules) for knitting, scrapbooking, photography, art, nature, etc. Any special interest that one might have.
* Take the lead and help Hillside find materials for a soccer group/club on the weekends

Note that VHCA has regularly donated to Hillside in appreciation of their providing a meeting room for the NPU – almost $4000 over the last decade.

Children giving back
Children also learn that giving is a two-way street. When people give back, it helps them grow and heal. So, for example, with the assistance of a volunteer from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the children working in the garden recently painted on rocks things they would want others to have. The rocks were then placed in the Zen garden at the Emory Cancer Center.

“Activities like this teach empathy,” said Katrina. “It’s empowering: The kids need help but they also help others in need.”

Services Hillside can provide to the community at large

Hillside has recently expanded its community services beyond psychiatric residential care. Today’s children, especially adolescents, are under social and academic pressures largely unknown to their parents: pressures to achieve, to appear successful, and to take on a huge array of activities and courses. So Hillside  opened up Hillside DBT, an outpatient clinic in Buckhead designed not for residential, psychiatric care like the Courtenay campus, but just to help ordinary kids and their parents cope with the unrelenting pressures of adolescence.

Hillside has found that the same DBT training that is used on Courtney can help these kids, too. The Hillside DBT clinic also offers training and workshops for parents on how to raise kids in these highly competitive times.

For more information on the Buckhead clinic, click here.

For more information on how you can help Hillside on Courtney, click here.

Touring the campus

Hillside welcomes anyone in the community to tour the Courtney campus. Email Katrina Word (shown at right) at  or call her at  404-875-4551 x 321 if you would like to take a tour or discuss volunteering.


The perspectives in this article are those of Hillside, and are described in this article to help further an understanding of the organization’s sense of mission for its surrounding communities.

How this article came about: After Hillside’s new President and CEO, Emily Acker introduced herself at last month’s meeting of NPU-F, which for a decade has met there, our VHCA representatives to the NPU suggested that the Voice carry an article about them. In the clothing store picture in this article, Emily is shown at right working with a volunteer.

Stephen Cohen is the Editor of The Virginia-Highland Voice.

Pedestrian and Safety Improvements Coming to Inman

by Jack White

From December of 2013 through the following spring, local parent and resident Mary Stouffer chaired a multi-neighborhood PTO effort to promote pedestrian safety at Spark. It resulted in the school’s selection as one of two Georgia sites for a Safe Routes to School study of traffic and pedestrian challenges. That study – which included GDOT (property owners of Briarcliff Road) – was part of the process that led to the signal and crosswalk modifications at that school. To the best of our knowledge, those changes have worked out well.

A by-product of that process was a separate ‘Safe Kids’ study of the same issues at Inman, supported by Children’s HealthCare of Atlanta. Its main focus was similar – improving pedestrian safety. The eventual recommendations included upgrading  the Virginia Avenue and Arcadia crosswalks to ADA standards and adding a HAWK crossing signal, both to make the pedestrian trip safer and to moderate the tendency of some drivers to speed down that road’s long unimpeded stretch from Park to Barnett.

Children’s Healthcare also provided much of the project funding. Because the city is supplying the rest, implementation seemed uncertain – until this past week, when Public Works informed Inman and our council member that the money would soon be available and that (since the school year had just begun) the project would begin as soon as possible, perhaps over the next few weekends.

The goals are laudable; Inman Principal Betsy Bockman has wanted pedestrian improvements on Virginia for some time. Having the Public Works Department react too promptly has not been a widespread challenge in this city; it’s a general concept that all citizens can support, as we do sharing plans in a measured way.

As noted, these crosswalks are at the Arcadia corner of John Howell Park. During that park’s recent rehabilitation, the local citizens made sure that all parties were aware of the stormwater improvements the city had made in this area over the last two decades. The construction around the volleyball courts did not alter stormwater flows at all, and neither will these changes, Public Works assures us.  Nor should they diminish the capacity of the newly-widened corner plaza to accommodate small groups of kids waiting to be picked up after school (or just socializing), which was a specific park renovation goal.

We will share further updates and details on  You may see the conceptual plans – they are not construction documents – here.

Jack White is a member of the VHCA Planning Committee and Board.

Atlanta Moon Ride Raises $45,000 for Terminally, Chronically Ill Children

by Stephen Cohen

On Friday, June 19, 2015, nearly 4,000 people of all ages from across Atlanta participated in the third annual Atlanta Moon Ride benefiting Bert’s Big Adventure, a local nonprofit organization. This photo, courtesy Joseph Wong Photography, shows what 4,000 cyclists look like at the start of a race!

The festivities began at 6 p.m. in Piedmont Park, kicking off the fun-filled evening with live entertainment from Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics, delicious food options from The Fry Guy, Burger ATL, Tikiz of Cobb County and Tex’s Tacos and a variety of premium drinks from ShockTop and Deep Eddy vodka.

Then the ride began, and thousands of intown cyclists, from children to adults, some dressed outlandishly and some a tad more conventionally, had a blast on a 6.5-mile ride that began at 10:00pm on a perfect evening in Piedmont Park under a crisp new moon and ended up in Virginia-Highland. This photo, also courtesy Joseph Wong Photography, shows the colorfully dressed crowd spreading out as it wound through our neighborhood.

Afterward, bars and bike racks along North Highland were packed, as exuberant cyclists capped off a wonderful evening. If you want to get the full flavor of the ride, click here.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the night went directly to Bert’s Big Adventure, a nonprofit organization that takes children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families on an all-expenses-paid trip to Walt Disney World.

Citizen open houses on the Connect Atlanta Plan Appendices

Citizen open houses on the Connect Atlanta Plan Appendices, including the Cargo Atlanta Citywide Freight Study, the Cycle Atlanta Phase 1.0 Study, the Atlanta Transit Oriented Development Study, and the Move Atlanta Design Manual for Active Streets. All from 6-7:30 PM, as follows:

Tuesday, June 18: Agape Community Center, 2351 Bolton Road SW

Tuesday, June 23: Atlanta Plaza, 950 E. Paces Ferry Rd., Suite 850, 8th floor

Monday, June 29: James Orange Recreation Center, 1305 Oakland Dr. SW.

It’s Time to Summerfest!

SummerfestWho’s ready for some Summerfest?

The 32nd edition of VaHi’s summertime celebration of art, music and food is just days away. Here’s the 411 on this year’s event:


It all gets kicked-off Friday June 5 with resident-only events, starting with the Community Parade (this year’s theme is “Rock Stars and Divas”) which kicks off from Intown ACE Hardware at 7 PM. Parade participants should arrive no later than 6:30 PM. If you have not yet registered for the parade and would like to do so, click here and complete the form at the bottom of the page. On-site registration will also be available.

DSC_0036For those cheering on the participants, the parade will proceed down Drewry, turn right on Barnett and end up on the eastern side of John Howell Park where the community dinner and movie will be held this year. Please note that this event has been moved from the Inman Middle School ball field where it has been held in recent years. The dinner starts at 7:30 PM, and the movie will start around dusk (usually around 8:45 PM). Admission to the dinner/movie is free to VaHi residents with an ID. Non-resident guests (date, houseguest, babysitter, etc.) are welcome when accompanied by a resident. Cost for guests: $10 for adults, $5 for children. If space is available, non-resident neighbors may enter the area after dinner (around 8:15 PM) to watch the movie. This year’s movie is Big Hero 6.

DSC_0103There will also be live music on the Acoustic Stage at the intersection of Virginia and N. Highland Ave.’s on Friday night from 8-11 PM.


DSC03397Don’t stay out too late Friday night because the popular Summerfest 5K Road Race gets going at 8 AM Saturday June 6. For more information on the race or to sign up to participate, click here. On-site registration will also be available this year. If you have aspiring runners too young for the road race (ages 5 and younger), bring ’em over to the eastern section of John Howell Park following the 5K’s conclusion (around 9:15 AM) for this year’s Tot Trot. Click here to pre-register for Tot Trot or you can register on-site.

Summerfest 2015 officially opens at 10 AM Saturday. Festival-goers can choose from events like the Artist Market and Kidsfest (please note Kidsfest ends at 3 PM and the Artist Market closes at 6:30 PM on Saturday).

DSC05195The Music Stage gets going at Noon Saturday with a performance from Sans Abri. Here’s the rest of Saturday’s music lineup:

Please note that this year’s Music Stage will be located on the eastern side of John Howell Park and not on the Inman Middle School ball field.

And after Southern Gothic wraps things up on the main Music Stage, the Acoustic Stage at Virginia and N. Highland Ave.’s will be the place to be again Saturday night with entertainment provided from 9-11 PM.


IMG_0716Get ready to do it all over again on Sunday June 7 when Summerfest reopens at 10 AM. Before you hit the festival, though, why not participate in the 2015 Warren Bruno Summerfest Celebration Bike Ride? The ride starts at 8 AM at North Highland Park (corner of St. Charles and N. Highland) and you can choose to ride a 9.5 mile loop (once or twice) or a 20-mile loop. Cyclists of all ages and levels are welcome. For more information or to register, click here.

DSC01436If you’re up for a little music on Sunday morning, grab your coffee and bagel and head over to the Acoustic Stage where the spotlight will be on two fun and unique groups featuring young performers from our area:

  • 10:00 AM: Performers from Eclectic Music
  • 11:00 AM: Irish Dancing with Burke Connolly Dance

The Music Stage gets going Sunday at 12:15 PM with Taylor & Ciara performing. The rest of Sunday’s music lineup:

DSC01429And, since you probably didn’t have enough time to enjoy all the activities on Saturday, be sure to stop by the Artist Market and Kidsfest area on Sunday. Kidsfest closes at 3 PM Sunday and the Artist Market closes at 6 PM.

Just a reminder that Summerfest’s Artist Market is a juried show of gallery-quality art featuring 230+ of the Southeast’s finest artists. You’ll find artists specializing in painting, sculpture, jewelery, textiles/fiber arts, photography, clay, wood, metal, graphics and mixed media (click here to view a list of exhibiting artists). Please be sure to visit the Artist Market and support the 2015 Summerfest artists by making a purchase or two.

VHCA Summerfest Store

11080256_978523362211018_332461056547736383_oThis year we’re making it even more convenient to buy your commemorative Summerfest t-shirt and help support the neighborhood. We’ll be selling Summerfest t-shirts at Friday night’s Community Cookout & Movie and at the Acoustic Street Party. Ladies, you’ll have three designs from which to choose: two in a fashionable ladies-cut and another in a traditional unisex t-shirt cut. Guys, you’re sure to enjoy the 2015 Summerfest design. T-shirts are available in sizes S thru XXL. Get one before they’re gone! And if you’re unable to join Friday’s resident-only events, or you lost sleep regretting not having purchased a t–shirt, be sure to stop by one of the two Summerfest stores during the festival on Saturday or Sunday.

11165072_978523358877685_1823068065588305904_oIn addition to the always popular Summerfest t-shirts, we’ll also be carrying Virginia-Highland branded car tags, address plaques, framed neighborhood posters and signed copies of History of Virginia-Highland, written by VaHi residents Karri Hobson-Pape and Lola Carlisle. The store will also display samples of several Virginia-Highland branded items now available for purchase at the VHCA’s’s Zazzle store.

Free Bike Valet at Summerfest

imageAnd don’t forget that you can help alleviate Summerfest traffic congestion by cycling to the festival. We’ve made that easier to do by partnering with Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to provide free bike valet parking during festival hours. This year the ABC bike corral will be located at the “Field of Dreams” on the southwest corner of Virginia Ave. and Ponce de Leon Pl. (adjacent to the festival’s western entrance).

For more information on Summerfest, click here.

We look forward to seeing everyone this weekend at Summerfest 2015!

Inman Middle School Expansion Meeting Set for May 5

DSC_0004What: Inman Middle School Expansion Meeting

When: Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Where: Inman MS Auditorium, 774 Virginia Ave., NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

April 16, 2015

Dear Inman Middle School Family,

In February, we met as a community to discuss the space and enrollment issues at Inman Middle School.  We had good dialogue about the current situation, potential scenarios for addressing our issues and explored new ideas (many from you) for solutions.

A big part of our discussion also included weighing the effect that the potential annexation of the Druid Hills community would have on the enrollment zone.  The annexation proposal did not pass the legislature, and now our planning will turn solely to developing solutions within the existing Grady Cluster.

We have scheduled another Community Meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, in the Inman auditorium to continue these discussions.

We appreciate your energy and continued support as we work to develop a long-term plan for meeting the enrollment growth projected.

Along with our superintendent and area Board of Education members, I look forward to seeing you.


Betsy Bockman, Ph.D., Principal

Some Thoughts from My Own Business Experiences with Security Cameras

By: Peggy Berg, VHCA Safety Committee

logitec_alert_750e-11372307Using security cameras to provide additional information for police investigations came up at the Atlanta Police Department safety presentation at the VHCA meeting in April. We’ve had cameras at our business for a while, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time listening to comments and thoughts from the professionals who’ve installed and maintained ours.  Here are a few points from them – and some other professionals I’ve spoken to – that might be of interest if you’re thinking of this approach and aspire to have a chance to provided information for the police. (The professionals are mentioned for purposes of attribution and without any implied endorsement at all. I thank them for their time.)

  1. Watermarks: To be admitted as evidence in Court, according to I-Tech Security, the footage or images should be watermarked and time stamped to show that they are genuine. Camera system clocks sometimes get out of sync, and police may need to see the camera system as well as the footage. Not all systems use watermarks or time stamps, but these are good features if you are shopping for security cameras. The presenter should be able to show that the integrity of the footage is not compromised, which means showing that it has been properly stored and presented.
  2. Pixels: Resolution of security video is measured in pixels per foot. The minimum for facial recognition is 40 PPF, explain our friends at Aronson Security. The range is from hundreds to millions of PPF. More is better, particularly if you want to zoom.  The new cameras at my business make it obvious how much cameras have improved. We used to get grainy footage of barely recognizable people; we now have a chance to capture license plates and faces at some distance. Basically,  the security footage is only as good as the camera’s resolution.
  3. Infrared: Not all security cameras record clearly in the dark. If you want coverage at night – particularly if you want it to have value for security purposes – select cameras with infrared.
  4. Color: Not all security cameras record in color. The oldest of my old business cameras provided grainy black and white footage, resulting in our spending a lot of time looking at images that were only vaguely discernable. The new camera images are much more crisp and useful.

Of course, no cameras can take the place of a range of security measures that discourage break-ins in the first place, but if things go wrong at our homes, video can be instructive both in apprehension and in trying to prevent this from happening again.  VHCA is pleased to work with the Atlanta Police Department in asking citizens for camera footage from residents when crimes occur.

Show Your VaHi Pride – Shop at Our New Zazzle Store!

virginia_highland_pillow-rf0a80da6e5df465287c9946220daf0b9_i5fbw_8byvr_512After creating the new VHCA logo last year, our design team has been working to apply the new branding across all of our messaging channels. Last summer we created fun Virginia-Highland posters that were received very well at Summerfest. And now we’ve created and populated The VaHi Zazzle store with fun Virginia-Highland branded merchandise.

whats_cookin_virginia_highlands_apron-rcfa56cb555e24a3899509133c50288e7_v9wh6_8byvr_512Twenty-five percent of every purchase will go directly to the Virginia-Highland Civic Association to support the work they do in the neighborhood. A few of the items are shown here, but we encourage you to go to the store and check out all that’s there. If we know Virginia-Highlanders, you’ll have a few ideas of your own for new products. We welcome your suggestions at

viewSpecial thanks to VaHi resident Ernest Lessenger for helping us get the store off the ground!

Orme Park Turtle Release a Success!

DSC_0272We had a successful release of five turtle hatchlings at Orme Park today. With a crowd of about 40 on hand (including many fascinated children) Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Mark Mandica led the event, allowing the children to touch and handle the turtles before they were released. You’ll remember that Mandica and his staff, along with concerned residents, were instrumental in the rescue and care of the hatchlings. Go to for articles on how the turtle nest was discovered and protected and how the hatchlings were saved from an almost certain demise.

DSC_0313Thanks again to Mandica and his staff for all their care and concern for the Orme Park turtles over the past few months. The five young hatchlings they’ve nurtured are now fending for themselves along the creek in Orme Park. Mandica gives them an excellent chance for survival and a long life. We sure hope he’s right.

Here’s a link to photos from today’s release event.

Surviving Orme Park Turtles Thriving, Release Event Set for Sunday

Orme_Park_Snapping_Turtle_Rescue_2015sLast June, Paige Cucchi and her husband Sean discovered a buried turtle nest during one of their regular walks through Orme Park. Concerned residents – including Cucchi, her husband and VHCA board member Lola Carlisle – set up a protective fence around the nest so that no one would disturb the turtles until they could hatch. Click here to read about the discovery and the steps taken to protect the hatchlings from predators.

When the turtles hadn’t hatched by early fall, residents became concerned. Click here to read how staff from Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Amphibian Conservation Program, Carlisle and other VaHi residents worked together to remove the turtles from the nest and save them from what would almost certainly have been a very early demise.

ABG Amphibian Research Coordinator Mark Mandica and his staff have been nurturing the hatchlings since their birth last year, and he sent over a progress report and photograph of the young turtles last week.

“We have five healthy young turtles that made it through the winter,” Mandica said. “They’ve been outside for the past few weeks sunning and getting used to outdoor temperature fluctuations. We did the best we could but lost a few that just couldn’t pull through such a stressful hatching. Fortunately, the five that survived are heathy, active and eating like crazy!” 

Mandica says the young turtles are now healthy enough to be released into the wild, a time we all knew (hoped) would come. Knowing that many in the neighborhood have followed the turtles’ incredible saga and would want to be a part of this momentous event, we’ve scheduled a small release ceremony for 2 PM this Sunday April 26. We’ll meet at the playground on Brookridge Dr. and Mandica and his team will lead us to the best spot to release the young turtles.

If you want to see and be a part of the Orme Park turtles being released back into the wild, grab the kiddies and meet us at the Orme Park playground this Sunday at 2 PM!

Stand Against Racism

Posting this on behalf of our friends at the YWCA:

Please join the staff, board, students, and other members of the YWCA community as we 


Friday, April 24

Ways to participate:

  • Wear the YWCA “persimmon” (i.e. orange) colors
  • Sign the national Stand Against Racism pledge online
  • Sign our banner in front of the agency on North Highland Avenue
  • “Like” us on Facebook and other social media
  • Take a stand and help raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism on our community

Click here to view the YWCA Stand Against Racism poster.


at-the-corner-of-9.5X24-MECH-01A Call for Volunteers

By Lola Carlisle

I’m not sure if all who live in the neighborhood know how much the Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) does to help maintain the quality of life we all enjoy. That’s OK – we’re all busy and some are new to the area and have never heard of VHCA. We’re a group of volunteers and we could use your help. Actually it’s really rewarding but can be so much more so if the workload is distributed across more engaged and talented residents.

From the amount of comments one sees on social media channels for our neighborhood, there are many who care a lot about what’s happening around them. We’d sure like to see that positive energy and concern channeled into action!

VHCA Committees in Need of Additional Volunteers

Safety Committee 

Peggy Berg chairs it and in case you didn’t know, she is our sidewalk hero! But there are so many influences on safety and Peggy could use some help. There’s criminal activity, homelessness, appearances that may influence safety (keeping trash picked up and graffiti removed), VHCA’s support of the Neighborhood Watch Street Captain program, traffic/lighting/signage, communication with our elected officials and APD, and more. Reach out to

Communications Committee

This committee is very important and we’re losing one of the neighborhood’s most treasured volunteers (to Poncey-Highland and aren’t they lucky!): John Becker, who’s served as Communications Chair (among other things) for the past three years. As a result of the efforts of many including John, VHCA communications are a best-in-class example of how it should be done. Our website, newsletter and social media communications are effective and important. We’re looking for someone to act as committee chair and others to fill out the committee. These volunteers will need to help steer our communications strategy, update our WordPress website, write and edit articles, manage ad sales and placement, send out the newsletter, tape and upload the board meeting videos and other tasks. If you’re interested in helping with this committee, reach us at

Fundraising Committee (Summerfest / Tour of Homes)

DSC05121A key reason that our neighborhood is so effective at maintaining our culture is our funding. We are able to hire consultants on planning, traffic and development issues; we receive grants to match the funds we put into our parks (see recent JHP improvements); and we give grants to our schools and local non-profits. We plan and execute both the Tour of Homes in winter and Summerfest in the summer; this work is time-intensive but certainly rewarding both in terms of experience and monetary gains for the neighborhood. Both committees need help! Tour of Homes is looking for a volunteer graphics person and someone to help sell sponsorships. Summerfest will need many volunteers so sign up at To get more involved with Summerfest, email or for the Tour of Homes email or

Virginia-Highland Preservation & History Committee

DSC_0144This committee does a good bit of scanning and filing and could really use help from someone who has a passion for history. We have 100 gigs of historic images and documents and many physical items that need organizing and attention. When better managed this can become a resource for the entire city of Atlanta as we’ll share it with the Atlanta History Center. If you’re interested in helping, you can reach us at

Just for fun – and as proof that you’ll learn new things during your volunteer experience – these are things I thought I’d never know, but do because I volunteer with VHCA:

  • Many amazing neighbors!
  • Many city officials personally – lots of whom are professional and energetic and care a lot.
  • How many guns were stolen out of cars in our neighborhood this year so far – 7!
  • Where the Todd Cemetery is and its history – you can visit it, too.
  • What a “quatrefoil” is, and where it appears architecturally in our neighborhood.
  • That the state stream buffer protection line is 25’ and the city stream buffer protection line is 75’.
  • The subdivisions of VaHi.
  • Our neighborhood’s exact boundaries.
  • Many folks that have contributed to things I enjoy – John Howell, Jerry Bright, Tinka Green (who we sadly lost recently), the Coffins, Warren Bruno and so many more.
  • How nice the folks at Open Door Community are.
  • How many neighbors routinely do a lot of thankless tasks that produce a much more liveable community.
  • How city planning constantly evolves, and how hard it is to anticipate the impacts of land use decisions.
  • That there aren’t near enough fields left in VH for our kids to go play on, with or without adults present.
  • How diverse the knowledge base is in VaHi – from aerospace engineers to paleontologists to geologists to dog walkers to master gardeners to screenplay writers to cartographers to…
  • A little more about Robert’s Rules of Order.
  • That Winnie Currie is from the mountains of Appalachia and worked at Sears for years and bought a house in VaHi when many were afraid to and told her she was crazy to do so.
  • How many structures, addresses, and people there are in VH.
  • That there used to be an attack goose owned by one of two feuding neighbors – the goose attacked the neighbor almost daily.
  • Who started VHCA, why it was started, and what highways had to do with that.
  • That Nass Almeleh paid 50 cents for a beer at Atkins Park as long as he lived – no matter what the price of beer was at the time.
  • The difference between Green B. and George W. Adair.
  • That Rooster Foot Alley must have been really cool and I need to find descendants of people who lived there.
  • That the top of Atkin’s Park Tavern is the house that was on that lot but was raised a story when the bar (that started as a deli) was built below it.
  • That we should start a VaHi Trivia game as part of Trivia at George’s!

If you’re not sure what you’d like to do, reach out to and someone will get back to you. Better yet, attend a planning or board meeting and you’ll start to get a feel for what we all do. Meeting schedules can be found on

APD Officials Listen and Respond to Resident Safety Concerns

IMG_0560The first portion of this month’s regular meeting of the VHCA held on April 13th was devoted to a special discussion of neighborhood safety.  District 6 Councilperson Alex Wan (who organized the meeting and arranged the speakers), APD Asst. Chief Shawn Jones, Deputy Chief Joseph Spillane, Zone 6 Commander Timothy Peek, and other officers made presentations, listened to resident concerns, and spent over an hour answering a wide range of questions.

While acknowledging the well-publicized instances of violent crime in and around Beat 601 that have caught everyone’s attention, the presenters pointed out that violent crime – murders, rapes, robberies and burglaries – is down in our beat when compared with last year, which itself had low numbers.  What is not down is the level of vehicle break-ins; officers encouraged residents and visitors to remove anything of value from parked cars and pointed out that among the items stolen from cars recently were seven handguns.

IMG_0563One resident pointed out that her knowledge of crime came at least in part from social media and asked about actual statistics. VHCA Safety Chair Peggy Berg and Board member Jess Windham graphed the last six years of stats for Beat 601 (solely and entirely composed of VaHi) and prepared and distributed a handout of those numbers at the meeting.  (They may be viewed here on our website, and we will update them monthly as we receive new data from APD.)

The officials thanked residents who told stories of calling 911 when they saw something suspicious, and encouraged everyone in attendance to do the same if they find themselves in a similar situation.  They explained the priority system that governs response to calls and provided average response times for all categories.  They reminded, urged, and pled with citizens not to intervene in crimes being committed, but to call APD.

IMG_0561Officials also commented that common traits of neighborhoods that effectively fight crime are neighborhood watches like the two-decade old one in VaHi. If you are not currently connected with your local Street Captain, please contact

Several speakers were critical of the county role in dealing with juvenile offenders and thought sentences were too light.  Another viewed the problem of keeping criminals off the street as a multifaceted one.  Police, prosecutors, judges, and the state (which runs prisons) all have a role in ensuring that the most dangerous and predatory of criminals are successfully caught, prosecuted, and incarcerated.

What was abundantly clear is that APD is highly informed as to the location and frequency of crimes, with data coming in and being analyzed constantly. The department’s ability and willingness to respond and shift resources around on an hourly and daily basis was impressive.

We appreciate the time and energy that the whole department expends on this effort, and the presentation ended with a warm ovation from neighbors.  We thank all those at APD and Councilmember Wan for the work they do and for making the evening possible.

Click here to view a video of the meeting in its entirety.

Click here for information on participating in the CourtWatch program.

Click here for a link to the Christian Science Monitor article on the Atlanta Police Department referenced by a resident who spoke at the meeting.

Local Teen Wins Second National Writing Award

clarissa-mulligIn May 2013 we posted this article about VaHi resident and then 8th grader Clarissa Mullig who had just won a Gold Medal in the national Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards, the largest and longest-running recognition program for creative teens in the U.S.

Well, Clarissa obviously isn’t one to rest on her laurels as she was recently awarded her second National Medal in a completely different writing category. Click here to read a Grady High School Facebook post about Clarissa’s accomplishment.

Congratulations, Clarissa, on being the only Georgia student in the past six years to win two National Medals across all writing categories!

Traffic Alert: Georgia Publix Marathon and Half Marathon Pass Through VaHi on March 22

Publix_Georgia_Marathon_Logo_copy_2012Expect traffic delays, road closings along the course on Sunday March, 22 between 7AM-2PM

More than 12,000 participants, 2,500 volunteers and 30,000 spectators will be along the course from downtown Atlanta to Decatur and back. Runners will pass through Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia State University, MLK Historic District, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, The Carter Center, Candler Park, Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Druid Hills, Virginia-Highland, Midtown and Georgia Tech.

To view a map of the Marathon and Half Marathon course, click here. For detailed traffic and road closure information, click here. For detailed traffic information and driving suggestions for participants or spectators, click here.

The following excerpt from the road closure document will impact Virginia-Highland residents:

North Highland Ave – North Highland Ave from North Ave to Virginia Ave is part of the course during approximately 7:13am-9:30am. Also, the intersection of North Highland & Virginia is closed to traffic during approximately 7:13am-9:30am. After approximately 9:30am, North Highland Ave is open to traffic from Baker-Highland Connector to Los Angeles Ave. The intersection of North Highland & Los Angeles is closed to traffic during approximately 8:30am-12:45pm, after which all of N. Highland is open to traffic.

Briarcliff Rd – Briarcliff Rd from Stillwood Dr to The By Way is part of the course during approximately 8:25am-12:30pm. During the race, Briarcliff Rd is open to 2-way traffic south of Stillwood Dr and north of The By Way.

VHCA Encourages Support for Tuesday Bond Referendum

Fire Station 19 repair funds confirmed on list

Anticipated light voter turnout means your vote matters more than ever

No. 19 StationAtlanta City District 6 Councilmember Alex Wan confirmed this week that repair funds for Fire Station 19 are included in the infrastructure bond coming up for a vote this coming week. In a meeting with Wan at the station, Atlanta Fire Department Interim Chief Joel Baker assured community members that the station would remain a fixture in the neighborhood for another generation. Noting that the area’s increased growth means additional fire and rescue capacity might be necessary, Baker reported that the department would address those needs through additional facilities, not replacement of FS19.

The infrastructure vote has flown along relatively under the radar, gathering attention only in the last two weeks. Councilmember Wan, chair of the Council’s Finance/Executive Committee, is a strong supporter, as is the VHCA Board, which voted unanimously in favor of it last week. Creative Loafing’s Thomas Wheatley says the city’s aging and crumbling infrastructure leads him to support the vote, notwithstanding the fact that the project list may be adjusted to some degree. Max Blau finds that last point all too characteristic of this administration and wants to send the Mayor a message about more transparency. Neither of them – no one, to our knowledge – has contested the need for the repair work. You can read both their opinions here:

Greater transparency is a goal we can all endorse, but not fixing broken roads and aging bridges is a costly way to make the point. Our ‘strong mayor’ form of government gives that individual’s personality and style outsized importance – something well worth remembering when we next go to the polls to vote for that office in 2018 – but a ‘no’ vote on infrastructure improvements doesn’t change city government in the least. It just means we will lose at least half a decade in addressing these problems.

Meanwhile, David Pendered notes in the Saporta Report that the city’s improved credit rating enabled the municipality to refinance some of its outstanding water bond debt at a lower rate last month, saving – he suggests – about 10% on the refi amount. You can read his article here:

Taxpayers pay for all public work one way or another, and there can be no absolute guarantee that a tax increase related to these bonds will never be needed. But Reed is opposed to it publicly, and even his harshest critics acknowledge that he has greatly strengthened the city’s financial position. If there is one area in which his credibility is strong, this is it.

Lastly, local impacts. We appreciate the role of Fire Station 19 in this community’s life and are glad its preservation will be ensured by the passage of this vote. But even if it were not on the list, the other repairs and improvements this bond will deliver need to be started now. It is inevitable and appropriate in our representative system that special efforts will be made to ensure that all communities are benefitted in some way, but the needs of this city are so vast that it wasn’t very hard to make sure that occurred. In our neighborhood this includes a host of traffic improvements, including many along Monroe Drive and Boulevard that are supported by communities along the length of those roads.

We urge you to take the time to study these issues and vote on Tuesday, and we hope you will support this referendum.

~ The VHCA Board of Directors

Trees Atlanta Annual VaHi Planting Set for February 21

image001VaHi’s streets are among the most tree-lined of any intown Atlanta neighborhood. We have many years of joint planting events with Trees Atlanta to thank for that wonderful fact. This year’s annual Trees Atlanta/VaHi tree planting will be held Saturday February 21 from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM.

DSCF0011The overall focus continues to be to plant in areas of high automobile traffic to help slow down the traffic, reduce pollution and increase the sense of ‘neighborhood’. This year most of the trees will be planted along Greenwood and St. Charles, but a number of fill-in trees will also be planted along Adair and some along Barnett. Click here for a detailed list of what trees will be planted where. All sites where trees will be planted have been leafletted.

DSC_0012Concurrent with the planting of these 85 trees in the neighborhood, neighbors on Clemont and Greencove are sponsoring a mulching of the trees in the back of the field at Inman Middle School. The mulch for both projects will be dropped at that location. If there are enough volunteers, we should be able to mulch all the trees not only in the field, but also the street trees immediately surrounding Inman School.

We need volunteers for both events. If you’d like to help plant trees, come to New Highland Park at 9:00 AM. If you want to help mulch, come to the back of the field at Inman School along Clemont. All ages are welcome and no RSVP is needed – just show up if you can help.

Trees Atlanta will provide buckets, pitchforks, shovels and gloves for volunteers. Let’s bring out the entire neighborhood and celebrate Arbor Day planting and mulching trees, VaHi-style. Special thanks to the scouts and leaders of Cub Scout Pack #17 for their ongoing support of this annual event! Pack #17 has been instrumental in raising funding and providing volunteers for the event, year in and year out.

For more information contact Alex Beasley at Trees Atlanta or Stephanie Coffin

VaHi Resident Continues Work on Mosaic at Intown Ace Hardware, Education Event Scheduled for Saturday

Coffin Dedicdation InviteLet’s face it: there’s a Hall of Fame for just about everything. Pro football, major league baseball, country music, even harness racing. If it’s something people follow, then there’s a hall somewhere where the best of the best are enshrined.According to VaHi resident Stephanie Coffin, that’s all well and good. But what about insects?

According to VaHi resident Stephanie Coffin, that’s all well and good. But what about insects?Coffin, Intown Ace Hardware and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association invite you to stop by Intown Ace’s parking lot at 845 N. Highland this Saturday December 13 from 1-3 PM for the dedication of Coffin’s newest mosaic creation which she’s calling the

Coffin's VaHi home is a virtual showcase of mosaic art.

Coffin’s VaHi home is a virtual showcase of mosaic art.

Coffin, Intown Ace Hardware and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association invite you to stop by Intown Ace’s parking lot at 845 N. Highland this Saturday December 13 from 1-3 PM for the dedication of Coffin’s newest mosaic creation which she’s calling the Insect Wall of Fame.

“The name is a play off of the College Football Hall Fame,” says Coffin. “The idea is to specifically honor four insects and present their images in beautiful settings. I hope the mosaic inspires children to learn more about insects, these four in particular.”

Coffin's workshop studio where she creates her mosaics.

Coffin’s workshop studio where she creates her mosaics.

Coffin’s been doing mosaic work in and around Virginia-Highland for years. Her work titled Precious Predators was presented as part of the Art on the BeltLine series (and is now on display at Truly Living Well Gardens), and it can be seen on planters at Sevananda market on Moreland Ave. in Little Five Points. Last year Coffin began work on the planter in the Intown Ace parking lot. For more information on Coffin and her art, click here to read an interview with the artist published last year in The Voice.

Thanks in part to a community art grant awarded this year by the VHCA, the artist was able to recently complete a second planter wall. So, just which insects is Coffin featuring on her Insect Wall of Fame?

“I’m featuring the ladybug, the Monarch butterfly, the praying mantis and the honey bee,” Coffin explains. “I chose the ladybug and praying mantis because of the work they do for us in the garden. I chose the Monarch because it stands in the throes of extinction. The butterfly’s image is surrounded by milkweed which it needs for reproduction and hangs by a thin thread. We can all help preservation efforts by planting NATIVE varieties. Lastly, because of colony collapse and other bee problems, I wanted to prominently feature the honey bee. In addition to these insects I’ve included vegetables and flowers so the insects are shown in a natural setting.”

Not only will Coffin be on hand Saturday to answer questions about her creation, Intown Ace gardening expert Robbie Cotney will provide useful and interesting information about each insect featured in the mosaic.

The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend. Organizers plan to provide hot cider to attendees.

Fire Station #19 Santathon is On!

station19santathonWhen: Saturday, December 6th, 1PM – 8PM (Santa will arrive after he finishes Breakfast with Santa at Osteria 832)

Where: Fire Station #19, 1063 N. Highland Ave., across from Church of Our Saviour

From caroling to roasting s’mores to selfies with Santa, there will be something for everyone to enjoy at this Santathon to benefit Fire Station #19. In the spirit of holiday giving, this festive event – presented by Tailfin Marketing – is a fundraiser with proceeds going to help restore our historic fire station.

Fire Station #19 is Atlanta’s oldest continuously operating fire station, was designed by Atlanta’s City Engineer, C.E. Kaufman, and built in 1925. The station sits in the heart of Virginia-Highland and holds an important place in the hearts of VaHi residents. It is home to a 1925 American LaFrance fire engine, much like the engine that would have operated out of the fire station in its early days. The firefighters have been raising funds for several years and have plans in hand to make repairs and improvements that will preserve this fire station for years to come. Please take part and help preserve our important landmark Fire Station #19!

Starting Nov. 28th visit to sign up for Santathon events by appointment. Residents and visitors are also invited to drop by and participate throughout the event.

Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes Committee Thanks 2014 Sponsors

2014-Tour-of-Homes-DatesThe 2014 Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes is only three short weeks away. With ticket sales already booming and our sponsorships locked in, our 2014 tour promises to be another successful neighborhood event. This year we have a total of 75 business/individual sponsors and have raised $35,000 to fund important neighborhood initiatives. THIS IS INCREDIBLE!  In addition to sponsorships, some businesses and restaurants donated TOH tickets and gift certificates via the Tour of Homes Facebook page. We’ll continue to run these promotions right up to event weekend so check our page out daily to have a chance to win!

On behalf of myself and the entire Tour of Homes Committee, we would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to this year’s sponsors. Thank you for your generous contributions at all levels to help ensure the success of our event, support our community and give back to our neighborhood.

This year’s Presenting Sponsor is Muffley & Associates.

Our Premium Sponsors are Keller Knapp and The Real Estate Company.

Our Major Sponsors are Atlanta Intown, Barking Hound Village, Engineered Solutions, DogGoneHandy, Foam South, Home Rebuilders, Lisa Fish Creative, Mark Arnold Architect, Peachy Clean, Phoenix Renovations, Round Here Renovations, The Great Frame Up, The in towners, The Warren, Whole Foods – Ponce and YWCA.

Our Benefactor Sponsors are Abraham Properties, Balance Design, Broad Builders, Centner Consulting LLC, Construction Resources Inc., Copper Sky Renovations, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Interior Evolutions, John Wesley Hammer, Karen Hott Interiors, Liz Lapidus, She’s Wired, Traditions in Tile and Stone, The Suzuki Prepatory PreSchool and Urban Body Studios.

Our Neighborhood Sponsors are 310 Rosemont, Allied Fence Company, Atlanta Active Wear, Bla Bla Kids, Dan DeHart, Muffley & Associates Real Estate, Design BH Architecture, Distinctive Appliances Buckhead – Midtown Vaccum, Fern Valley Landscape & Interiors, Faith Flowers, HOMESTEAD Real Estate Consultants, Intown Hardware, Mike Price, Realtor – The Mike Price Team, MLC Properties, Neptune Pools, Nikie Barfield Design, Nonies Garden Florals & Botanicals, PSB Studio Architecture, Urbana Designs, William Wren and Winter Wren.

Our Giveaway sponsors are Atkins Park, Barking Hound Village, Bla Bla Kids, Disel Filling Station, El Taco, Engineered Solutions, Foam South LLC, Fontaine’s, Highland Tap, Keller Knapp Realty, La Tavola, Moore Farms & Friends, Muffley & Associates Real Estate, Murphy’s, Noche, Tapa Tapa, Ten Thousand Villages, The Rea Estate Company, The Warren City Club, Timmone’s and Whole Foods Market – Ponce de Leon.

Get your tour tickets online NOW at the Tour of Homes website. Plan Dec 6th and 7th as your weekend to EAT, TOUR and SHOP in VaHi. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 day of tour. Your tickets get you access to seven incredibly unique homes, a tour of the historic Church of Our Savior, food samplings from 10 different community restaurants and special coupons and discounts from our local eateries and shops.

This is the perfect weekend to kick off your holiday season. Bring your family and friends out to hear the Grady High School Jazz Band and Choir perform. What an amazing community we live in. It’s time to celebrate in Virginia-Highland.

~ Angelika Taylor, 2014 Tour of Homes Chair

Taste of Atlanta Comes to Midtown October 24-26

Taste of Atl 600x200More than 90 of Atlanta’s best restaurants will participate in this year’s Taste of Atlanta, to be held October 24-26 in Midtown at Tech Square. With eateries featured from both inside and outside the perimeter, festival-goers will be able to savor truly authentic flavors that represent every corner of the city.

New this year, to help attendees pinpoint their local favorites or discover new dining treasures during Taste of Atlanta, the festival will take food lovers on a culinary tour through the city’s many diverse neighborhoods. Whether it’s Buckhead’s St. Cecilia, Virginia-Highland’s The Original El Taco, Roswell’s Little Alley Steakhouse, Decatur’s No. 246, Brookhaven’s THERE, Alpharetta’s Milton’s or Midtown’s Table at Ten, festival-goers will experience a variety of signature sensations from each community.

Keeping with tradition, Taste of Atlanta will kick off the festival’s 13th year of fantastic fare with an exclusive block party on Friday, October 24. The event, themed Culinary Matrimony, will feature local celebrity chefs for an evening of both famed and more obscure flavor pairings. Guests can also look forward to live music from Electric Avenue, a PleaseRock tribute band, and bountiful booze. Select restaurants, including Seven Lamps, Fox Bros. BBQ, The Optimist and Buttermilk Kitchen, will also be onsite to serve up delicious bites.

“I think people will be hard pressed to find more culinary variety in one place,” said Chef and Restaurateur Ron Eyester of Rosebud, The Family Dog, Timone’s and his latest concept, Diner. “With every signature taste, the festival showcases just how diverse and progressive our city’s dining scene really is. I welcome any opportunity to support my fellow chefs and our local food landscape, and that is exactly what Taste of Atlanta brings to the table!”

Click here for more information on Taste of Atlanta.

Let’s Bring Some Fall Color to The Triangle Island Park

DSC_0151Please join us at the Virginia-Highland triangle island park (in front of Taco Mac) on Saturday morning, October 11 to help with light weeding and fall planting. We will start at 10 AM, but feel free to come by any time before noon. We will have some tools on hand, but please bring gloves and spades if you have them. Bottled water will be provided.

Questions or comments? Contact Nonie Daniel at

VaHi Celebrates Atlanta Streets Alive

Kudos to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for putting on another outstanding Atlanta Streets Alive event yesterday. Four hours of un-motorized bliss and plenty of fun activities and events for people on foot, bicycle, rollerblades, etc. to participate in.

A broken foot prevented your fearless reporter from cycling the event this time, but I was able to walk the area between Virginia Ave. and Freedom Pkwy. and took pictures along the way – including many from the start of the Bicycle Parade. Here are 15 of my favorites. Click here to view a Google album with more photos. Enjoy!


VHCA Announces Candidates for 2014-15 Board of Directors; Absentee Ballot Available

VaHi-Logo-Very-Horizontal-Small-RGBThe nominating committee of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association presents the following list of candidates, all of whom have declared their candidacy. Click on the candidate’s name to go to a page with candidate bio’s.

Members of the association (18 years of age residing within the official boundaries of Virginia-Highland) may vote at the Annual General Meeting to be held September 18, 2014 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria starting at 6:30 PM. In order to vote, please bring a copy of a valid ID (GA driver’s license, e.g.) or a utility bill issued within 60 days of the meeting and showing your name and address.

Absentee Ballot

Members may also vote by absentee ballot. Your ballot along with a copy of one of the forms of identification mentioned above may be delivered to the offices of Tailfin Marketing (1246 Virginia Ave.) by noon on Thursday, September 18 or to the Annual Meeting by its start time at 6:30 PM. Please put your ballot in a sealed envelope with the identification documents separately sealed inside or stapled to the outside. (Please cross out specific account or driver license numbers.) After your residency is verified, the identification documents will be removed and destroyed. Your ballot will remain anonymous.

Click here for a copy of the absentee ballot.

Exterior Improvements Underway at Ponce Kroger

Whatever name you use to refer to it, the Kroger on Ponce has announced it will make major improvements to the parking lot area around the store this fall. The improvements will include construction of a gateway to provide access to the adjacent BeltLine Eastside Trail, a “water quality pond” designed to filter storm water, a repaved parking lot surface and a redesigned entrance that will provide better flow of traffic in and out of the parking lot.

The gateway to connect the parking lot to the BeltLine is under construction (see photos below) and work on the other new features should begin soon. Planners hope to have all work complete by November.

Click here to read a article on the improvements. Click here to view a rendering of what the parking lot will look like when work is complete.

DSC_0748 DSC_0747 DSC_0746

Traffic Alert: Atlanta Moon Ride

AMR logoThe second annual Atlanta Moon Ride will be held this Friday June 13 and will pass through Virginia-Highland. The 6.5 mile ride starts at Park Tavern at 10 PM and proceeds up Kanuga to Virginia Ave. where it turns left. The ride continues along Virginia, taking a right turn at N. Highland Ave. The ride exits the neighborhood at Ponce de Leon Ave.

APD officers will implement lane closures and rolling roadblocks at cross streets along the course route. There will be fixed roadblocks at Virginia/N. Highland and N. Highland/ Ponce de Leon intersections.

Click here for more information on the Atlanta Moon Ride including a graphic of the course route.

Summerfest Tribute Ride: In Memory of Warren Bruno

SummerfestThere could be no better way to celebrate the man and avid cyclist who made Virginia-Highland Summerfest happen than with a celebratory ride through Atlanta’s favorite intown neighborhoods. That’s just what the staff of Atkins Park Restaurant & Bar and Ormsby’s is doing.

profile_warrenbruno122010.jpgIn fitting Warren Bruno style, the restaurants are hosting a bicycle ride during this year’s Summerfest. The ride starts at North Highland Park, at the corner of N. Highland and St. Charles Ave’s. The course continues to Little Five Points, through Old Fourth Ward and onto the BeltLine, into Piedmont Park and over to the Ansley Park Loop. The ride ends, of course, “at home” in Virginia-Highland just in time to enjoy the second day of the annual summer arts and music festival. Riders can take their choice of three loops – anywhere from 9.5 to 19 miles in total. To make sure the course is fun (and just a bit challenging) for all skill levels, the ride starts in waves according to ability, with plenty of markings to follow as well as ride leaders to help along the way.

As an owner of the flagship Atkins Park restaurant and now Ormsby’s, Warren Bruno was one of the founders of Virginia-Highland’s Summerfest. This annual tribute was created to honor and celebrate the man who never missed a chance to bring family, friends and community together – or the chance to enjoy the city by way of bike.

warren_bruno_sidewalk_spray_265hTo participate, riders must be registered with a number. To do so, register online. Fees are $5 for children and $20 for adults. Donations to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are welcomed in honor of Bruno, and go directly to the Georgia Chain Gang team fundraising efforts. Founded by Bruno, the Georgia Chain Gang team rides in his honor to raise awareness for blood cancer research. Riders are also encouraged to bring their own water bottles, as refills along with food will be provided along the route.

Number pick-up and sign-in for the ride begins at 6:45 AM and the ride starts at 8 AM on Sunday, June 8. To register as a rider, visit the Warren Bruno Summerfest Celebration Ride website or visit the Facebook event page for more information. And, of course, get ready for the perfect celebration of Summerfest, community and the life of Warren Bruno!

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Graphic credit:

Graphic credit:

By: Elizabeth Weaver

May is mental health awareness month. Although we spend billions of dollars each year as a country on ways to improve our mental health, we may just be scratching the surface when it comes to understanding all the pieces of the puzzle. Thankfully, we have many modern resources to rely on including medicines, talk-therapy, and even some newer approaches like biofeedback.

But new research is taking a closer look at something our gut has been telling us all along – literally. As it turns out, scientists are claiming there is a bidirectional relationship between our stomachs and our brain. We may have all thought to ourselves that stress can upset our tummies, but we are now learning, our tummies can upset our mood as well.

So let’s back up to a time where some medical professionals thought stomach issues caused from stress were fictitious and not worth treating. Treatments were sparse and doctors were fast to dismiss their patients’ so-called phantom symptoms. Fast forward to today, when we are learning that actual physiological changes in the gut can be the cause of stress, depression, anxiety and many other maladies we are all too familiar with as a modern society (1). Several chronic inflammatory intestinal diseases like Crohn’s and diverticulitis are made worse by stress, and indeed may be a psychological and physiological cause of stress themselves. We also now know that keeping a healthy balance of intestinal bacterial flora helps stave off certain contagious diseases (2).

Current scientists are now focusing more of their efforts on understanding this complex relationship between the brain and what some are now referring to as our “second brain.” According to one line of research, certain probiotic supplements replace bad bacteria with good bacteria, which in turn down regulates inflammatory processes caused by stress (3). Another study showed that treatment with the specific probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum relieved depression and anxiety in a test population (4). These studies and many more like them have unearthed what scientists are now calling the gut-brain axis, a biochemical connection between the two that might explain their interconnectedness.

Although more research is needed at this time to fully realize the intricate relationship between our mood and our stomachs, we can’t ignore their connection anymore. In the spirit of mental health awareness month, take care of your mind, along with your gut*. Both will thank you.

  2. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). “Probiotics are secret weapon for fighting symptoms of the common cold in college students, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2012
  3. BMJ Specialty Journals. “Probiotics Ease Gut Problems Caused By Long Term Stress.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2006
  4. Messaoudi, M, et al. Beneficial psychological effects of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in healthy human volunteers. Gut Microbes July/August 2011; 2:4, 256-261
  5. Chen, X., Roshan S., and Seong-Tshool H.. “The role of gut microbiota in the gut-brain axis: current challenges and perspectives.” Protein & Cell 4.6 (2013): 403-14.

*Talk to your physician about ways to improve your gut health, and always before taking any medicine or supplements.

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Weaver is Assistant Director of the Brains & Behavior Program at Georgia State University and editor of GSU’s Brain & Behavior Potential. Elizabeth is a VaHi resident who wrote in asking whether or not she could contribute an article to The Voice. We encourage residents to submit stories or story ideas to us. Email us at with your thoughts.

Dishing With Murphy’s Chef Ian Winslade

Murphys#1Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series by VaHi food blogger Denise Romeo spotlighting the ever-popular Virginia-Highland eating establishment, Murphy’s Restaurant, located at 997 Virginia Avenue. Murphy’s is open Monday through Thursday 11:00am – 10:00pm; Friday 11:00am – 11:00pm; Saturday 8:00am – 11:00pm; and, Sunday 8:00am – 10:00pm. Look for conversations with Murphy’s owner Tom Murphy and Sommelier Michael Kunz in past and future issues of The Voice. Photos courtesy of Denise Romeo. 

The sun is shining brightly and a cool morning breeze tickles the gathering crowd as Chef Ian Winslade of Murphy’s restaurant peels and chops a little known vegetable for his Celeriac And Golden Beet Remoulade. On this sunny Saturday, Chef Winslade has stepped out of his kitchen on the corner of Virginia and North Highland Avenues to demonstrate how to cook with fresh, organic vegetables at the Morningside Farmer’s Market.  (Click here for the recipe.)

winsladeChef Winslade is a major advocate of the farm-to-table movement and strives to cook with locally-sourced ingredients as much as possible. He currently works with four local farms to provide fresh produce for the restaurant explaining that the further the ingredients must travel, the less healthy they are due to the processes used to prolong their shelf life. Chef Winslade plans his menus around four distinct seasons and likes the challenge of working with what is available locally each week: “It forces me to constantly be flexible and think about workable flavor combinations.” He continues in his velvety British accent, “Last year was particularly challenging due to the unseasonably wet Spring. We had planned for a glut of zucchini and tomatoes that never really came in, and our menu reflected those shortages.”

Current menu items for Spring include fresh peas, fava beans and morels.

When asked about the impetus for Murphy’s “Meatless Monday” menu, Chef Winslade explained that cutting meat from your diet, even if it’s just once a week, can dramatically decrease your risk of heart disease. “Meat is hard for your body to digest; giving your body a break each week allows time for it to catch up and heal. It also reduces your carbon footprint and saves natural resources.” He enjoys working with healthy grains such as farro and bulgur, and uses chickpea flour in lieu of less healthy, processed wheat flours.

remouladeMurphy’s has many menu options for vegetarians, vegans, and customers avoiding gluten, and these are all clearly labeled for customers.

“We try to accommodate any dietary restrictions that our customers may have,” Winslade explained. “With few exceptions, all of our dishes can be adjusted to a customer’s needs.”

Chef Winslade went on to say he’s surprised that more people, especially Virginia-Highland residents, do not take advantage of Murphy’s take-out option.

“You can walk in and order almost any menu item for take-out or call in your order for pick-up,” he said. “It is a wonderful way to have a freshly prepared dinner at home even when you don’t have time to cook it yourself. You can even pick up a bottle of wine from the wine shop to go with your meal.”

In addition, members of the Friends of Murphy’s guest loyalty program can accumulate points with take-out purchases as well as in-house dining. To join Friends of Murphy’s, sign up during your next visit to receive a membership card and a signing bonus of 250 points ($10 reward) toward your next visit.

Local food blogger Denise Romeo has lived in the Virginia-Highland area for 24 years. She and her husband, Dom, enjoy spending time together cooking and entertaining. You can read more from Denise on her award winning blog at We Like To Cook!

Master Plan Update

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-RGBBy Jess Windham, VHCA Master Plan Committee Co-Chair

As we continue through the documentation phase of the Master Plan process, planners at Market+Main are currently editing the document to incorporate feedback received since the draft was released on March 10th. A second revised Plan will be posted on Friday, April 4th and subsequently open to comments. At this point in the process, there’s been a lot of feedback and quite a few interesting and informative points have been made, some several times. We are now at a point where we as a neighborhood have a robust document that contains concepts that have been crafted over months, refined, and now edited to fit the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

After you read through the recommendations in the second draft, we encourage you – as we have in every step of this process – to provide your feedback via the website. This is the primary and best way to voice concerns or praise and to make sure your feedback is taken into account. Every comment has been read and reviewed by many sets of eyes.

On March 23rd, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association hosted an Open House at the old Aurora coffee shop with members of the VHCA board and professional planners from Market+Main available to answer questions. This was added to the original public process planning to allow greater opportunities to learn more about concepts in the Master Plan in a person-to-person format. Comments made at this event have also been considered as the draft that we will see this Friday has been refined. By my tally, about 60 people stopped by to discuss and learn more about plan concepts, not including a few stragglers just looking for a good cup of Joe.

Many residents have had questions about a roundabout and road diet on Monroe and concerns regarding accessory dwellings. In addition to the Open House forum, VHCA wants to provide additional information and clarity on these questions and concerns. As such, we asked Market+Main to put together a Frequently Asked Questions document that addresses the common and recurring questions that have been asked on these and other concepts. This FAQ document will be posted on on April 4th along with the second draft of the Master Plan.

This process began about seven months ago to give this neighborhood a formal voice in planning concepts in the City of Atlanta. The challenge before us was not whether or not the questions being posed would be answered or not; the city has the ultimate responsibility in such matters and has been willing for years to fulfill it, with or without significant community input. The degree of surprise many citizens expressed at learning from the Master Plan about the Monroe Drive road diet – which was  approved twice in the last decade after city processes with public hearings, one that included the BeltLine – illustrates the challenges that accompany getting the word out and the importance of doing so. We have experienced both aspects ourselves in this process and appreciate them both.

That said, in the City of Atlanta, a neighborhood with a Master Plan has a formal voice, an opportunity to argue for much more detailed and specific outcomes, and – even more importantly – a much better chance of getting its fair share of funding for public projects that the city has decided to undertake. Changes are inevitable; this is a grand chance to inform and shape these changes. With that common goal in mind, we hope that you all will review the upcoming second draft on April 4th at and if you like it (or if you don’t), let us know.

VaHi Safety Team Report: March 23, 2014

Annual Citizen’s CourtWatch Training

Learning how our court system works and does not work at times makes for a fascinating and educational Saturday morning.  I will not be able to attend this session this year – but hope that there will be several from VaHi present in courtroom 1D in the Fulton County Courthouse at 185 Central Avenue, SW, ATL 30303 from 8:30 to 12:30.  This is an opportunity for citizens to learn how you can be the eyes and ears of the community in the courtroom.  Please let Reiko Ward, the courtwatch coordinator for the DA’s office, know you will be attending by e-mailing her at   The most convenient place to park is at the Underground garage on MLK right across from the courthouse.

Ansley Mall Warning

I have been notified by my alert and aware Old 4th Ward and Midtown friends that Bobby James Perry is out of jail again and has picked Ansley Mall (mainly in front of the Publix) to hustle for cash.  He was last arrested here on St. Charles Avenue on 9/7/13 when he was found sleeping (or passed out) out on a sidewalk.  He had a warrant out of Bartow County, but I assume that jail sentence has been taken care of and he has found his way back to his old stomping grounds.  He has had a long list of bookings at Rice Street since 1988, mostly involving drugs and thievery in some way or another.  He is NOT wanted for anything now that I know of – but I am writing this to ask you to PLEASE NOT give him money that will just help him to stay here in our midst.  His latest mug shot is at

1001 St. Charles Avenue, NE

This former location of the Gaslight Inn has been repossessed by an unknown bank (at least to me) and is for sale.  The back porch of this beautiful old house is unsecured and now is serving as an urban campground.  I have reported this property to code enforcement, but have not yet heard back from them as to being able to contact the bank for securing the property and to have someone to press tresspassing charges on these intruders..  No – the real estate agent listed on the sign in the front yard has never answered my e-mails or phone calls.

Making 911 Reports

I have been made aware of certain criminal activity here that has gone unreported to APD via a 911 call.  I am referring in particular to intrusions of unlocked vehicles where either nothing or very little has been taken – this is still a violation of private property and Zone 6 needs to know.  These reports serve to establish activity patterns and help Zone 6 know where to enhance personnel coverage.   Calling 911 is the only reliable way to let APD know about crimes and also about suspicious behaviour and individuals.  Do NOT call the Zone 6 precinct office, as they do not know where our Officers are at any given moment – only the 911 call center knows this information.  When you call 911 the first person you talk to is a general operator who ascertains what your call is about and who then either passes it on to AFR for fire and medical situations or to the dispatcher for the APD Zone you are calling from.  The Zone dispatcher knows where all Officers are in that Zone and can find someone to respond to your call as soon as is possible.

EarthDay BeltLine Cleanup 4/19

The details of this cleanup are at One of the target areas for this cleanup will be the infamous bamboo grove across the BeltLine from the Piedmont Park dog park and behind Park and Elmwood Drives.  Hopefully this cleanup will finish the elimination of this hide-out grove that was started by the good folks from Two Urban Licks a couple of years ago.  If you were among the big groups that have participated in these previous year’s cleanup sessions, you will remember the urban jungle state of this now well-used paved and civilized trail.  We now know that these cleanups lead to more paved trailway.  There should be a big turnout from VaHi for this April 19 event.

The following reports are taken from our APD Zone 6 ( VaHi Beat 601 reports for the 2014 weeks 9 and 10 (2/23-3/8).  These reports are not meant to scare anyone, but to raise your level of awareness as to what happens around us everyday.

Aggravated Assault  –  No reported incidents from Beat 601

Auto Theft  –  No reported incidents from Beat 601

Commercial Burglary  –  No reported incidents from Beat 601

Residential Burglary  –  A PDL Avenue residence in the Atkins Park district was entered via a broken kitchen window.  The victim’s backpack was used to haul out many of the stolen items and Larry Burke was arrested with this filled backpack.  Burke is yet another career criminal who has a long record of priors and was just released from Rice Street on 1/7/14 for another burglary charge and struck this house on 2/28/14.  I am hoping for a CourtWatch session when he comes up for his hearings – I’ll be letting you know when.

Commercial Robbery  –  No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Nearby at the Walgreens store at Piedmont and North Avenues, a shoplifter took 4 bottles of wine and once outside passed them on to someone in a waiting car and the car fled,  For whatever reason the shoplifter did not get in the car, but stayed and fought with the security guard.  Now – because of his resistance, he is charged with robbery instead of just shoplifting.

Residential Robbery  –  No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Pedestrian Robbery  –  No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Larceny From Vehicle  –  Reported incidents involved two vehicles on North Highland Avenue and one at the Highland View Apartments on PDL Place.

There were 42 such reported incidents in this time span all over the Zone.

Larceny Other  –  At the Inman School a teacher’s cell phone was taken from her desk, and as the reports reads “some kids called her later, snickering in the background and hung up”.

Nearby, Green’s Liquor Store caught two shoplifters with arrests.  Also our PDL Avenue Kroger and Publix stores caught two shoplifters.

Stay alert, keep ALL parked cars cleaned out at ALL times and enjoy spring.

Meatball Mania Comes to VaHi

Bar Meatball LogoThe meatball mania that’s trending all over the globe has made its way to Atlanta via chef-owner Joey Masi, formerly of Pozole. Masi and cousin Joe Federici are the first to bring polpetti (Italian meatballs) to the Atlanta market in the form of Bar Meatball, which opened this past Thursday March 13th at 1044 Greenwood Avenue (the former location of Pozole).

“We wanted to bring what we grew up with – the meatballs our mothers used to make – to the Atlanta market,” said Masi, a long-time veteran of the Atlanta restaurant scene and former chef-owner of Pozole. “We’ve created a completely affordable menu that reflects our Italian-American heritage.”

JoeyMasiThe offerings are a fun, mixed bag of meatballs ground in-house daily and sourced from local beef and pork purveyors whenever possible. The “classic,” a blend of freshly ground sirloin and brisket with ricotta, crowns a menu that runs the gamut of great balls of fun, from old school sausage and peppers to chicken and rosemary with white wine, all paired with sauces from tomato to mushroom gravy.

Diners can choose four meatballs plus a sauce for a mere $8, then move to sides of house-cut fries or Parmesan mash, as well as “old-school extras” of an antipasto plate sourced from local meat maven The Spotted Trotter, plus fried peppers, fried calamari and Caprese salad – offerings that are fun and affordable. Desserts are highlighted by “Joey’s bag-o-donuts,” Italian zeppole tossed with powdered sugar, New York style, and mix-and-match house-made ice cream sandwiches. The cocktail program offers specialty drinks such as the “Milano mule,” a cool blend of Tito’s vodka, Aranciata Rossa, fresh lime and ginger, as well as Italian vino and beer.

Interior1The Pozole space has been remodeled by designer Christopher Bailey, with a sense of old-school elegance, featuring subway tiles and an elegant arched bar

“We want people to feel at home, and walk away happy – and full – without blowing their budget,” said Masi. All of Bar Meatball’s menu options, from meatballs to sliders and salads, are $10 and under.

VaHi resident Kay Stephenson and her husband Mark were among those dining at Bar Meatball when it opened last Thursday. Here are her comments about their experience:

Interior“The place had a good crowd when we arrived around 8:00 pm. We couldn’t get a seat at the bar so we sat at a table in the main room (right next to our next door neighbors as it happened). We tried the calamari, two kinds of meatballs (beef and pork sausage), two sauces (classic tomato and bolo), broccoli rabe and white beans with greens, and a pretty awesome ice cream sandwich. We will definitely go back. I think it is a great addition to the neighborhood, and will be good early for families or later for bar and late supper crowd. We met the new owner to this partnership, Joe Federici (Joe Masi from Pozole is still running the kitchen). They have a couple of interesting beers on tap, a decent wine offering, and Mark said his Maker’s Manhattan was really good. Finally, I have to say that for a first night, the service was pretty flawless. By all means, check it out. I’m going back to try the lasagna, which is made to order and sounds a bit like the open faced lasagna they used to make at Atkins Park many eons ago.”



About Bar Meatball

Owners Joey Masi and Joe Federici bring the meatball mania that’s sweeping the globe to Atlanta with Bar Meatball, a fun, casual meatball bar that offers a unique taste of Italian polpetti (meatballs) to Atlanta’s Virginia-Highland neighborhood. Located at 1044 Greenwood Ave., N.E., Bar Meatball is open Monday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to midnight; Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.; Saturday from noon to 2:00 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 11 pm. For more information, call 404-228-2901 or visit

Click here to view the front side of Bar Meatball’s menu. Click here to view the flip side.

Photography courtesy of Isadora Pennington.

Budweiser Clydesdales Come to VaHi!

DSC_0146Virginia-Highland residents were treated to a mid-day surprise visit by the Budweiser Clydesdales yesterday.

The iconic horses are in town for an appearance in Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day parade this weekend. The massive steeds, their attendants and their magnificent beer-laden carriage assembled at Manuel’s Tavern around 3 PM, then headed north on N. Highland Avenue. Stops were made at the Chevron Station at the corner of N. Highland and Virginia, Limerick Junction, Atkins Park and Neighbor’s. At each stop a supply of Budweiser – freshly brewed yesterday morning at the Anheuser Busch plant in Cartersville – was delivered. Hundreds of VaHi residents lined N. Highland, cheering the beautiful horses on as they made their deliveries.

DSC_0128Click here to view a video of the Clydesdales arriving at the Chevron Station to the delight of the gathered crowd. Click here for an album of photos from yesterday’s visit.

Street Captains Help Keep Residents Safe and Connected

By: Eleanor Barrineau

Some of VaHi's Street Captains pose for a group photo at a recent meeting.

Some of VaHi’s Street Captains pose for a group photo at a recent meeting.

Did you know that Virginia-Highland is one of the few neighborhoods in Atlanta – maybe the only one – that is connected by a network of Street Captains for almost every street? It’s our own unique version of a Neighborhood Watch.  Each Captain passes along John Wolfinger’s safety reports, serves as a focal point for addressing safety concerns, helps coordinate block parties and other get-togethers, and welcomes new neighbors.  In providing input for the neighborhood Master Plan that is under development, Virginia-Highland residents said they wanted to “Be known as a neighborhood that values and cares for its neighbors.”  Interestingly, this stated goal of “neighborliness” has not often been listed as a top priority in other neighborhoods’ Master Plans.  There are many ways in which our neighborliness manifests itself, and our Street Captain network is one of those.

Some recent examples of activities coordinated by Street Captains:

  • A street-wide yard sale held annually and coordinated by Rosedale Drive Captain Kay Stephenson (this year’s sale is coming up on March 29th and will include Rosedale Road and Arlington Place as well – check it out!). These yard sales are a great opportunity for folks to get out of their houses and catch up with neighbors while also searching for bargains.
  • Two of our Captains have been involved with cleaning up the alley between St. Charles and Ponce – Brian McGuire of St. Charles Avenue has organized clean-ups of the paved portion (Maiden Lane) and Angela Sturdivant of the 737 Barnett condos has helped coordinate recent clean-up efforts in the unpaved portion now called Maiden Trail.
  • Neighbors on Highland Terrace, well organized by Captain Deirdre Fleming, are planning another Block Party.
  • One of our “Street Captain Heroes” is Jo Ann Zyla of Elmwood Drive.  Jo Ann not only helps keep tabs on parking issues surrounding Piedmont Park events, but also coordinates get-togethers and maintains a street directory for use by the residents.  As John Wolfinger said, “she has just become the mama for the whole street.”

These are just a few examples – thanks to all of our Street Captains for their efforts to keep us connected and improve our safety and quality of life.

Don’t know who your Street Captain is?  Contact to find out.

Although we have most streets covered, we still need Captains for most of Ponce Place and for the stretch of Monroe that falls in Virginia-Highland (10th to Amsterdam).  Contact the email address above if you live on either of those streets and are interested in finding out more about being a Street Captain.

Also, Street Captains love it when others on the street pitch in – so please let your Captain know if you can help!

Direct Primary Care: A Healthy Alternative

By: Nicholas J. Beaulieu, M.D.

Dr. Nick Beaulieu

Dr. Nick Beaulieu

Changes in our health care system are impacting the patient/physician experience, and future demands will further challenge your ability to access preferred providers. Many new options, including those available through, may not enable your continued access to providers of choice, as many physicians are opting out of the new government sponsored plans.

With the March 31st deadline of the individual mandate for health care coverage required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all Americans not enrolled in compliant “minimum essential” coverage will be subject to annual penalties assessed with federal income tax returns.

Dr. Beulieu and Amy Hatfield, PA.

Dr. Beaulieu and Amy Hatfield, PA.

There is a general movement toward greater financial efficiency in the health care marketplace. Direct primary care is an emerging care model that removes the insurance “middleman” from your primary care provider relationship. On a much larger scale, think Kaiser Permanente and, more recently in greater Atlanta, the Piedmont Wellstar Health Plan, designed to exclude a third-party insurance company. With direct primary care in a local, independent practice, physicians can remain truly invested in their patients’ health and evade the corporatization of medicine.

Direct primary care offers primary, preventive and chronic care and ensures easy and timely access to your primary care provider. Routine primary care is provided without the administrative burden of insurance approvals, filings and claims. Many direct primary care physician practices offer a membership program that delivers numerous benefits to those who join.

HUCFM_DSC2745_rainydayHealthAlliance, a direct primary care membership program brought to you by Highland Urgent Care and Family Medicine (HUCFM), is a fresh, affordable alternative to the new health plans and coverage now required by the ACA. HUCFM is a local, trusted and independently owned physician practice that has served this community for more than 10 years with an exceptional staff of board certified physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

When combined with a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), HealthAlliance membership offers a cost-effective option that will satisfy the ACA individual mandate.  An HDHP is a lower premium plan specifically designed to cover unpredictable events outside the scope of primary care, including specialty care and hospitalizations.

Primary care is the foundation of good health and key to the prevention of disease and disability. It includes preventive care, treatment of acute and chronic illness, routine treatment of common injuries and conditions, and ongoing health maintenance.  HealthAlliance is a source for the care you need at an affordable price. Visit the HealthAlliance website to learn more.

Highland Urgent Care and Family Medicine / HealthAlliance

920 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30306


Second Clean Up for Neglected VaHi Alleyway



Passing along the following from Christopher Juckins and the other residents who have been working recently to improve conditions along the alleyway that runs between Ponce and St. Charles east of Barnett (now dubbed ‘Maiden Trail’). Thanks to these residents for giving of their time and talents to make a difference in the neighborhood.

Saturday March 1 was another successful day for the continuing cleanup of the St. Charles/Ponce de Leon alleyway, located between Frederica and Barnett Streets. About fifteen residents who live nearby – some of whom live on other blocks – turned out with great enthusiasm to clear brush, debris, and collect several more bags of trash and recyclables from this common property recently nicknamed “Maiden Trail”.

The group’s goal is to make the alleyway safely passable for pedestrians, off-road bicyclists, and, most importantly, emergency vehicles. Residents have requested an increased police presence in the area to prevent the return of illegal encampments and deter crime.

...and after.

…and after.

Before and after pictures (two shown here) are quite impressive, with many areas of thick underbrush and overgrown weeds completely cleared by the volunteers. The group is working with the VHCA to find cost-effective ways of mulching or removing the large areas of cut brush that were created.

The next cleanup is scheduled for Saturday April 5 at 9:00 AM. Continuing feedback on the alley is encouraged so that the best and most sustainable long-term solution for the neighborhood can be implemented. Please email any comments to for more information.

The group also wishes to thank Emile Blau of American Roadhouse who once again generously supplied breakfast meals and coffee for the volunteers.

Trees Atlanta VaHi Planting Set for February 22


Editor’s Note: A headline for this article in our Voice e-newsletter listed a February 15 date for this event. That date is incorrect. The correct date is February 22. We apologize for the confusion.

Trees Atlanta will conduct a major planting event in Virginia-Highland later this month, and you’re invited to help.

Anyone who wants to assist with the planting should RSVP by clicking here. Volunteers will meet at New Highland Park  (corner of N. Highland Ave. and St. Charles Pl.) at 9 AM Saturday February 22. Please wear work clothes and bring work gloves. All other supplies will be provided.

DSCF0011This planting event will focus primarily on the following VaHi streets: St. Louis Pl., St. Charles Pl., St. Augustine Pl., Briarcliff Pl. and Greenwood Ave. Most of the trees to be planted will be silver maples (acer saccharinum), trident maples (acer buergerianum) or crape myrtles (lagerstroemia indica).

VaHi resident Stefanie Coffin worked with Trees Atlanta to organize the planting, as she has done several times previously.

vahighbillkid205“These annual plantings focus on areas of the neighborhood with high density and traffic to help mitigate the impact of pollution from autos,” Coffin says.

“Focus is on street trees that survive,” Coffin says. “The average life of a street tree is around 17 years, so tree selection is a big part of the planning process.”

Coffin points out that funding for the annual planting comes from the yearly grant given to Trees Atlanta by the VHCA and a generous contribution from UMC Cub Scout Pack #17, as well as recompense funds paid to the city by anyone found to have taken down or destroyed a tree illegally (these latter funds flow through the Tree Conservation Commission).

The planting event is part of Trees Atlanta’s NeighborWoods program, in which the non-profit partners with neighborhoods across metro Atlanta to plant native species, raise awareness about the benefit of trees, and create a core group of tree advocates. NeighborWoods is a collaborative effort to replenish and sustain the tree canopy, while also educating the community on tree care and management.

Click here to view a complete list of what kind of trees will be planted where.

Residents Clean Up VaHi Alleyway


Volunteers gather for a group photo before the clean up.

About a dozen Virginia-Highland residents braved chilly temperatures yesterday – but fortunately no snow – when they met to clean up the section of alleyway between St. Charles and Ponce de Leon avenues that runs from Barnett St. to Frederica St.

Residents Alicia Cardillo and Chris Juckins organized the clean up. Volunteers collected enough bags of trash to completely fill the back of a pickup truck. In addition to trash, several bags of recyclables were collected, and some overgrown brush was cleared.

A future event is planned to clear more brush and make the alleyway safely navigable for vehicles. It is hoped the increased traffic in the alley will discourage the homeless encampments and other undesirable activities that take place along the alleyway.

The group thanks Emile Blau of American Roadhouse who generously supplied biscuits and coffee for the volunteers. Supplies were donated by Keep Atlanta Beautiful, Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful and residents.













...and after.

…and after.









Scroll down to view more photos from the clean up (thanks to Chris Juckins and Kay Stephenson for these). Click here to see more photos of what the area looked like before the clean up.

IMGP4039 IMGP4038 IMGP4037 IMGP4036 IMGP4035 IMGP4033 IMGP4031 IMGP4030 Work_01

Atlanta Women’s Chorus to Perform at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church

Passing this notice along from our friends at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church:

The Atlanta Women’s Chorus will perform Finding Her Here: In and Out of Love at DHPC on Saturday February 8 at 8 PM.

The subject of love in the lives of women is explored in this debut performance. From Dante to Broadway, this moving collection will feature music that celebrates love found and love lost, and will showcase Atlanta’s newest vocal ensemble with something for everyone. Be there as history happens; take in the beauty of women’s voices, rising and bursting into song and celebrate the debut of this new chorus!

Tickets at

Click here for more information.

Summerfest 2014 Artist Application Site Goes Live January 22

SummerfestLogo14Artists who want to exhibit at this year’s Virginia-Highland Summerfest can complete an online application to do so starting tomorrow January 22. Applications will be accepted through March 24.

Click here starting tomorrow morning to complete the application or visit for more information.

This year’s Summerfest is set for June 7-8.

Dignitaries On Hand for Groundbreaking of BeltLine Gateway to Historic Fourth Ward Park

Beltline_logo_finalMayor Kasim Reed, BeltLine President and CEO Paul Morris, BeltLine Partnership Executive Director Valerie Wilson, and Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner were among the dignitaries on hand for this morning’s groundbreaking ceremony for the gateway path that will connect the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail with popular Historic Fourth Ward Park.


Mayor Reed addresses the crowd.

The ADA-accessible path will begin across from the trail’s Angier Springs Road access point and wind down the western slope toward the park, connecting at Dallas Street and North Angier Avenue (see artist rendering below). The design includes landscaping, retaining walls, lighting, and green infrastructure stormwater design.

DSC_0052Construction is expected to begin immediately with completion estimated for some time this summer.

Funding for the Eastside Trail Gateway comes from generous contributions from the following Atlanta BeltLine Partnership donors: A Friend of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership; the R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation; the John N. Goddard Foundation; and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation.

Click here for more information on the BeltLine and the new gateway.

Artist rendering of gateway courtesy Atlanta BeltLine

Artist rendering of gateway courtesy Atlanta BeltLine


Ponce City Market


Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner addresses the crowd.


BeltLine Partnership Executive Director Valerie Wilson addresses the crowd.


BeltLine President and CEO Paul Morris

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Final Community Workshop for VaHi Master Plan Set for January 22

IMG_6362The final community workshop for the Virginia-Highland Master will be held January 22nd at Inman Middle School from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. This will be your best chance to provide in-person input into the Master Plan and ask questions of the planning consultants before the plan is drafted.

During the workshop, our neighborhood planning consultants will provide an update on where the 6-month community input process stands and facilitate a community-wide discussion on the topics that will be addressed in the plan. Topics include land use and zoning, transportation, open space and environment, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development, and education for the community.  Breakout stations will enable you to provide input to our professional planners on what you would like to see in our neighborhood in the years to come.

Don’t miss your chance to hear about the plan in person and provide input on your priorities and vision for VaHi!

The Virginia-Highland Master Plan is a comprehensive community planning and visioning process initiated by the Virginia Highland Civic Association for the purposes of establishing a compelling vision for the future of this vibrant Atlanta neighborhood.

This 6-month process will leverage community input to generate a strategic plan for land use and zoning, transportation, open space and environment, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development and education for the community. It will be a key document in securing project funding in the future.

Please visit for more details or contact Jess Windham and Jenifer Keenan at


Celebration of Ryan Hidinger’s Life Scheduled for Sunday

Ryan Hidinger, chef at Staplehouse restaurant and co-founder with his wife Jennifer of The Giving Kitchen – a nonprofit that provides assistance to metro Atlanta restaurant workers in financial need – passed away last week after a year long struggle with cancer. You can read more about Ryan and why so many people were saddened by his passing in this Access Atlanta article written by John Kessler.

Ryan’s friends and family have organized a celebration of his life that will be held at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot this Sunday January 19 from 11 AM – 2 PM. Scroll down for details.



VaHi Resident Named to Most Influential Georgians List


Photo credit: Jason Getz, AJC

Georgia Trend’s annual list of the most influential Georgians was released recently, and a Virginia-Highland resident’s name is on it.

Mark Becker, president of Georgia State Univerity, is one of 75 Georgians named to the list. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Since beginning his tenure as GSU’s seventh president in January 2009, Becker has led this 100-year-old institution of some 32,000 students into a period of marked growth and advancement. Under his leadership, Georgia State’s graduation rate has already increased by 10 percent, and the university is becoming a national model for undergraduate education.”

For those who don’t know, Mark is married to Laura Voisinet who has worked tirelessly to reduce graffiti in Virginia-Highland as chair of the the neighborhood’s graffiti abatement task force.

To see the rest of the list, click here.

Congratulations, Mark Becker!!

Traffic Alert: Atlanta Christmas 5K Road Race Coming to VaHi December 21

DSC03397Residents should be advised that the Atlanta Christmas 5K Road Race returns to Virginia-Highland on Saturday December 21.

The race will start at 8 AM. Runners will gather for the start across from the YWCA at the intersection of N. Highland and Adair avenues, wind their way through VaHi and wrap things up in the parking lot of Morningside Presbyterian Church. A turn-by-turn course route can be found below.

Morning-of-the race packet pick-up is available at the YWCA for runners who did not pick up their packets at Phidippides. There will be no full road closures for this event – just the usual partial closures and roadblocks at crossing intersections.

For more information, click here.

Turn-By-Turn Course Route

  1. Start—North Highland & Adair (line up on Adair) across from YWCA
  2. Turn RIGHT on North Highland
  3. Turn right on Greenwood Avenue
  4. Turn RIGHT on Ponce de Leon Place
  5. CROSS Virginia Avenue
  6. Turn right on Elkmont
  7. Bear LEFT at Elkmont/ Brookridge Drive
  8. Turn right on Brookridge, crossing the Orme Park bridge (water stop on the right)
  9. Bear left to Amsterdam Avenue
  10. Turn LEFT on Amsterdam
  11. Amsterdam merges to Courtenay
  12. Turn left on Greenland
  13. Greenland merges to Hillpine
  14. Turn right on Wayne Avenue
  15. Turn LEFT on Courtenay
  16. Turn LEFT on North Highland
  17. Turn LEFT on North Morningside Drive
  18. Turn right into the lot at Morningside Presbyterian Church

What’s Appropriate for that Big Blue Recycling Bin?

recyclingworldPassing along the following from John Wolfinger regarding what’s appropriate – and what’s not – to place in your blue recycling bin:

The City of Atlanta is having problems with our recycling program, in that far too many city residents are placing items in the large blue recycling bins that are not intended to be there. The single stream recycler the city uses is spending way too much time separating all the garbage and trash from the recyclables. Evidently the biggest problem comes from the plastic shopping bags which tend to fly around and get caught in the conveyor lines. These bags can be taken to Publix stores for recycling.

If you are in doubt as to where to take certain items for recycling, check with This is a great website with all sorts of useful recycling information.

Also, the Keep Atlanta Beautiful recycling sessions in Buckhead and the Old 4th Ward continue to grow as more and more folks are bringing items to these convenient locations once every month. Go to for details. Even though it was a miserable rainy day this past Saturday, we had a great turnout on Irwin Street in the 4th Ward. Now is a great time to start accumulating items to bring in January – styrofoam from gifts packaging, old electronics being discarded in favor of new models, batteries, and old paperwork from income tax filings, left-over paint you will never use again, etc.

The more items that can be kept out of our green trash cans – the less money that the city has to spend on transportation to ship this trash to distant landfills. It is a matter of dollars and cents.


The City of Atlanta and Mayor Reed are on a continued mission for Atlanta to become a top-tier recycling city and divert 90 percent of municipal solid waste by 2020.

In a statement to metro communities, the Department of Public Works said they want to, “ensure that all residents are a part of the effort to recycle more and protect our recycling stream from contamination.”

Here are the City of Atlanta’s “big three recycling reminders:”


– Keep the cart clean & dry! Rinse out all food containers

– Keep your cart lid closed AT ALL TIMES!

Also, please note that beginning this week, residents who have contaminated their recycling will receive a red “violation” sticker issued by Solid Waste Operators on their recycling cart, and a Contamination Notice door knocker will be issued by Solid Waste Supervisors. To ensure residents are aware of what is accepted and what is not, graphics are included on the back of the door knocker. By taking note of what actually can and cannot be recycled, we can help keep the recycling stream clean of contamination and working efficiently.

Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K Road Race Set for December 7

BLP_Runningseries_logo (2)Passing this along from our friends at the Atlanta BeltLine:

Atlanta BeltLine Running Series Announces Eastside 10K on Saturday, Dec. 7

Peachtree Qualifier Event Also Features Alumni Tailgate and Neighborhood Challenges

ATLANTA (Oct. 8, 2013) The Atlanta BeltLine Running Series(R) announced today its third annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K will take place on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. A Peachtree Qualifier, the race will kick off at Stoveworks at 112 Krog Street Northeast  Atlanta, GA 30307 at 10 a.m. Race day activities include the highly-popular College Alumni Tailgate Challenge and the Neighborhood Challenge.

Featured Image

Photo credit: Christopher T. Martin

“As a Peachtree Qualifier, the demand for the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K has been enormous, and even sold out last year,” said Atlanta BeltLine Running Series Race Director Dan Popovic. “Since the Peachtree Road Race began assigning start positions based on performance in qualifier races, this ups the ante on the value of participation to the running community.”

This run/walk on the Eastside Trail winds through the Inman Park, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Poncey Highland, and Virginia Highland neighborhoods.  Participants will pass by the new Historic Fourth Ward Park and Skate Park, take in beautiful vistas of downtown and midtown Atlanta, travel an off-road stretch of the Atlanta BeltLine corridor, and enjoy a jaunt through Piedmont Park.

“The Eastside Trail is the hottest thing to happen to Atlanta in years. Every week, thousands of Atlantans use the Eastside Trail for fitness, fun, access and connectivity,” said Atlanta BeltLine Partnership Executive Director Valarie Wilson.  “We hope to see participants of all fitness levels running and walking the Eastside 10K.”

Race Day Activities

  • Alumni Tailgate Challenge – Coinciding with the day of the SEC Championship and Championship Saturday, the Eastside 10K features an exciting Tailgate Challenge that encourages college football fans to represent their schools and enjoy a rigorous run before heading into the evening’s football programming.
  • Neighborhood Challenge – Atlanta neighborhood associations will compete for a $500 cash purse to be divided among the fastest, largest, and most spirited neighborhood teams.  “Atlanta’s neighborhood associations are rallying at the opportunity to compete for BeltLine bragging rights and potentially win some cash to support their community,” said Atlanta BeltLine Partnership Program Director, Rob Brawner.
Running by Ponce City Market

Photo credit: Christopher T. Martin

More details about the Atlanta BeltLine Running Series – including the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K, challenges and other races, can be found at Participants are encouraged to register by December 4, when registration will increase from $38 to $45. Proceeds benefit the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership.

About the Atlanta BeltLine

The Atlanta BeltLine is the most comprehensive economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment and mobility projects currently underway in the United States. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neighborhoods directly to each other. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) is the entity tasked with planning and executing the implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine in partnership with other public and private organizations, including City of Atlanta departments.

About the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABLP) is a non-profit organization committed to raising funds from private and philanthropic sources to support the Atlanta BeltLine, working with the community and partners to raise general awareness and support, and serving as a catalyst to mobilize resources to achieve the positive social impacts of the Atlanta BeltLine vision. For more information on the Atlanta BeltLine, please visit

Meeting Reminder: Historic District Exploration for Two Virginia-Highland Subdivisions

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadWhat: #3 in a series of informational meetings regarding exploration of historic district designation for two Virginia-Highland subdivisions. This meeting is primarily for residents in Adair Park living on the North side of Adair Ave., the East side of Todd Rd., and all of Rupley Drive – but any interested party may attend. Please see the map found on our website (link below) to see if you live in the contemplated district.

When: Thursday Nov. 7 – 7 PM

Where: Garrison Hall at Church of Our Saviour (opposite the fire station at the corner of H. Highland and Los Angeles)

Note: If this topic is new to you, please click here to view the original detailed announcement regarding this process. Additional information can be found by clicking here. 

VaHi Triangle Island Fall Clean-Up

A handful of volunteers met at the triangle island in front of Taco Mac this past Sunday and spent a couple of hours sprucing up the VaHi landmark for the fall and winter.

Trash was picked up from inside and around the island, weeds and tired spring annuals were removed, new winter annuals planted near the Virginia-Highland sign and some new pine straw put down. The temporary fencing that’s done a so-so job of keeping folks off the plantings was removed in preparation for a yet-to-be-determined more permanent solution to the problem.

Scroll down to see a few photos from the clean-up.

Thanks to all those who showed up to help!





Volunteers took time to use bolt cutters to cut same frayed wire ends on this poorly-anchored cleat. Safety hazard addressed!

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VaHi Safety Team Report: October 14, 2013

By: John Wolfinger

Neighborhood Cleanup Planned for Nov. 2

Keep Virginia Highland Beautiful, an independent coalition of concerned businesses and residents, has announced a community fall cleanup on Saturday morning, November 2, from 8 AM until Noon. Meet at the patio of the American Roadhouse restaurant at 8 AM for coffee and pastries and to get assignments to fan out along the North Highland business corridor. RSVP at either or at their Facebook page

If you are involved with a church, school, service, business or other such group – please consider this as an invitation to join in to make this morning a resounding success. If you also would like to self-organize a cleanup for other specific neighborhood areas – please let us know so you can be worked into the total effort for this day. Our previous cleanups have made a significant difference – let’s make this the best one yet.

What does this cleanup have to do with public safety? A lot – in that I am a confirmed believer of the “broken windows theory of crime prevention” – read about this at

In the meantime before the cleanup – we urge business and property owners to take a critical look at the area from your front door to the street and make an extra effort to clean up broken glass, cigarette butts and trash every day. This also apples to residents by making sure your property is well groomed all the way to the street. As you take your daily walk, take a plastic bag with you to gather up litter as you walk.

A special thanks goes out to Rad Slough of Urban Body for continually cleaning up the west end of Maiden Lane. If your business or residence backs up to this street, please consider partnering with Rad to keep this street even cleaner.

Cell Phone and I-Pad Thefts

These devices continue to be stolen from unwary addicted users every day all over the city. Many are stolen as they are laid down unwatched. Display these personal electronic devices cautiously in public. A recent such theft incident in Buckhead is documented at This caution also applies to the BeltLine – this popular path has been free of incidents lately, but don’t tempt fate.

Residential Security Camera Systems

Two very recent incidents were captured on high-resolution camera systems. The stories at  and Congrats to Zone 5’s Lieutenant Cantin for becoming a nationally known crime fighter via this film.

These camera systems are increasingly becoming more and more sophisticated with very clear images – but I am not knowledgeable about such electronic gear. If anyone out there would like to write up a short blurb about these new cameras, I would be glad to share with everyone in the community.

The following reports are taken from our APD Zone 6 ( crime stats for our VaHi Beat 601 for the 2013 weeks of 37, 38 and 39 (9/8 – 9/28). These reports are now meant to scare anyone, but to make you aware of what happens around us everyday and to raise your level of alertness. Note that this report contains 3 weeks of stats, instead of the usual 2 weeks – life has gotten in my way and I’ve just gotten behind in compiling a report.

Aggravated Assault: No reported incidents from Beat 601

Auto Theft: A 2008 Toyota Camry was stolen on Virginia Avenue and a scooter was taken from Briarcliff Court.

Commercial Burglary: No reported incidents from Beat 601

Residential Burglary: No reported incidents from Beat 601

Commercial Robbery: No reported incidents from Beat 601

Pedestrian Robbery: No reported incidents from Beat 601

Larceny From Vehicle: Vehicles were entered on PDL Place, Virginia Circle, Drewry Street, Virginia Avenue, PDL Avenue, Los Angeles Avenue (2), and North Highland Avenue (2).  In this 3 week total, there were 120 vehicles entered for theft all over Zone 6. Imagine that if everyone adhered to the Clean Car Campaign – how much more time Zone 6 Officers would have to spend patrolling, instead of writing up auto larceny reports. This is one of the easiest crimes to prevent – yet this category continually drives our crime stats upward every week. And – we all pay for this with higher insurance rates. Please warn your out-of-the-neighborhood visitors to clean out their cars before leaving their parked cars. The same goes for your lawn service guys – all equipment in the back of their trucks needs to be chained down.

Larceny Other: An unwatched cell phone was taken at an un-named PDL Avenue business.  Four unwatched cell phones were taken from 4 student football players while they were exercising in the gym. The North Highland Avenue CVS store spotted a shoplifter, but he got away.

Do you lock your car doors while pumping gas?  At Buddy’s gas station on North Avenue a purse was stolen from the front seat while one perp distracted the gas pumper and another took a purse from the front seat and both fled.  At a gas station on Boulevard – one perp asked the pumper “what you need?” and his accomplice took a laptop from the front seat and both fled.

At the Edgewood Retail District Target store, an unwatched cell phone was taken from a shopping cart.

Stay alert and enjoy this wonderful fall weather.

John Wolfinger: Atlanta Police Foundation 2013 Citizen of the Year!

Photos courtesy of Kay Stephenson.

Rosedale Dr. street captain Kay Stephenson, Peggy Denby, John Wolfinger and street captain coordinator Eleanor Barrineau (left to right)

Left to right: Rosedale Dr. Street Captain Kay Stephenson, Midtown/Ponce Security Alliance Director Peggy Denby, John Wolfinger and VaHi Street Captain Coordinator Eleanor Barrineau.

Virginia-Highland resident, former VHCA board member and VaHi Safety Team director John Wolfinger has been named APD and Atlanta Police Foundation Citizen of the Year for 2013. Wolfinger was presented with a plaque by Mayor Kasim Reed and APD Chief George Turner at the foundation’s annual “Crime is Toast” Breakfast held September 24 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Wolfinger was recognized for his leadership in building VaHi’s public safety network, which serves as a model for similar programs in other Atlanta neighborhoods. Now retired, much of this work was done while Wolfinger served on the VHCA board, chairing the Safety Committee. Also mentioned was Wolfinger’s implementation of a unique program that allows residents to have packages delivered to local businesses when they aren’t at home to receive them in person. Packages left unattended on a doorstep can alert potential thieves to the fact that there might be no one home, increasing the likelihood the home will be burglarized.

Wolfinger received his award from Mayor Kasim Reed and APC Chief George Turner

Wolfinger received his award from Mayor Kasim Reed and APD Chief George Turner.

The presentation to Wolfinger came at the end of an emotional ceremony that included the awarding of Purple Hearts to two officers wounded this year in the line of duty, and a memorial tribute for Officers Richard Halford and Shawn Smiley who were killed in a helicopter crash earlier this year while searching for a missing child.

“I’m still in awe that I was picked out of public safety geeks from all over Atlanta to be honored” Wolfinger commented. “My selection, though, is really a tribute to all our dedicated Street Captains, and the citizens from their watch areas who really make the Safety Team function every day in some way. The unselfish teamwork in Virginia-Highland is what has made our neighborhood watch system the largest and most active in the city, and what many other neighborhoods are striving to achieve. I’m the first to admit that our system isn’t perfect. For example, our fluid population makes it close to impossible to reach everyone with the Safety Reports. Unfortunately, we’re just not reaching so many of our young renters who don’t stay at the same address for very long. Often times these folks just don’t get to know their neighbors well and so they remain the ones who are very often the victims of crime.”

IMGP3347“The Crime is Toast breakfast also reminded me that even though we are in a big city,” Wolfinger continued, “Atlanta is also very much like a small town, as I saw quite a few police officers and civilians I know from all over the city. Everyone who attended has a keen interest in helping APD become a better force and advancing safety efforts in their own neighborhoods and businesses. The powerful force that the Atlanta Police Foundation has become has been a unifying agent in connecting the business community with APD for better overall safety practices in the city.”

We know we speak for everyone in Virginia-Highland when we say a heartfelt thank-you to John for all he’s done for our community.

VHCA Education Committee Offers Thoughts on Search for New APS Superintendent

110713063635_NewAPS-LogoOn Monday, September 9th, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Education Committee submitted a letter to Ann Cramer, chair of the Atlanta Public School Superintendent Search committee. The letter outlines some of the experience and qualities the committee would like to see in the new superintendent.

The Atlanta Public School Board hired Superintendent Erroll Davis on July 1, 2011. In December, 2012 the board extended Davis’s contract from June 30, 2013 to as long as December, 2014. In July 2013, the APS Board of Education dismissed its previous superintendent search firm, ProAct Search, and in August 2013, two new firms were awarded the contract: Atlanta-based BoardWalk Consulting and Philadelphia-based Diversified Search.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cramer said, “We will not begin to bring any kind of serious candidates to the table until after the election November with the intent that the new school board installed in January will make that selection hopefully in February or early March.”

Click here to read a copy of the education committee’s letter.

Mayor Introduces New BeltLine Path Force Unit


Mayor Kasim Reed addresses the crowd.

Mayor Kasim Reed formally introduced the new 15-person BeltLine Task Force bicycle patrol unit at a press conference today at Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark.

“The BeltLine will be secure,” Reed said during his comments. “We are going to do whatever we can in my administration to make it safe and keep it safe.”

The Mayor acknowledged the critical importance of the BeltLine to Atlanta’s social and economic future and pledged to do whatever is necessary to keep the project’s trails and parks safe, including additional lighting under bridges, video surveillance, and additional signage.

The BeltLine path force was funded by a $1.8 million federal grant which was contingent upon the APD using post-9/11 military veterans on the force. To comply with the grant requirement and still provide the most experienced possible force for the BeltLine, the APD promoted existing officers with military experience to the new Path Force while replacing those positions with recruits who also served in the military.


The new BeltLine Path Force patrol unit (bicycle and mounted).

Other dignitaries who spoke at the press conference included Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, Parks Commissioner George Dusenbury, and new Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. President and CEO Paul Morris.

Click here to read an AJC article about today’s press conference.

Click here to read an article about today’s press conference from the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. website.

Click here to read a VaHi Patch article about today’s press conference.

The Voice was the only media present in June when the Path Force unit went through bicycle training at the offices of Diversified Metal Fabricators on Pylant Street in VaHi. Click here to read an article about and see photographs from the training.

Scroll down to see a few pictures from today’s press conference, or click here to see the entire online library of pictures from the conference.

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Agenda for June 10, 2013 VHCA Board Meeting

Here’s the proposed agenda for tonight’s meeting of the VHCA Board of Directors:

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, June 10, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library

Proposed Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda and Minutes

Reports from Police and Fire Representatives

City of Atlanta Officials

Other Elected Officials and Guests

  • Alex Wan, Atlanta City Council District 6
  • Madigan McGillicuddy, Acting Director, Ponce de Leon Library

Planning Committee – Lola Carlisle


  • V-13-021;  960 Highland Terrace NE  – deferral requested by applicant
  • V-13-077;  770 Greenwood Ave. NE  – deferral requested by applicant
  • V-13-092;  882  Highland Terrace NE
  • V-13-093;  554 Orme Circle NE

Summerfest – Arturo Cruz-Tucker and Pam Papner

Safety Committee – Peggy Berg

  • Sidewalks update and funding proposal – Peggy Berg
  • Meeting with Park Atlanta

Parks –  Lauren Wilkes-Fralick

  • John Howell Park update

New Business

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle

  • Streets Alive: October 6
  • VHCA General Meeting: September 12
  • VHCA Organizational Meeting: September 29
  • Tour of Homes: December 7-8


30 Additional Historic Plat Maps Added

Houses once stood on the land that is now John Howell Park, and the Inman School's trailers and playing fields. This plat mapped out the land lots for those houses.

About a year ago, we posted 22 historic plat maps of various subdivisions that are now part of Virginia-Highland — these are the maps on which surveyors originally plotted how the land was subdivided into the lots that, for the most part, still exist today. To explore the maps, you can start by viewing the map of Virginia-Highland (“Map of Maps”), then select your specific area, then click through all available maps for that sector.

Now, the VHCA Preservation and History committee has provided an additional 30 historic plat maps which we have posted. The most enjoyable thing (for history and map geeks, anyway) is to explore from the overall VaHi map. However, if you want to know specifically which maps were added, here is a list:

Before the Plaza Theatre, Patent Medicine Paid for the Druid Apartments

by Brian Gross

It seems that patent medicine paid for quite a bit of local real estate development in the early 1900s. I previously wrote about how Dr. Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic helped build Atkins Park. Now I’ve discovered another promoter of cure-all liquid who financed a beautiful apartment building at the southwest corner of Ponce and N. Highland with his profits.

The site is currently occupied by Briarcliff Plaza, “Atlanta’s first shopping center” (1939) and home to the Plaza Theatre and Majestic Diner. But here in 1917, the Druid Apartments were built. They were financed by George Francis Willis who had made his fortune on sales of Tanlac, a cure for stomach troubles, and Zonite, an antiseptic.

In 1920, Forrest and George Adair brokered a deal whereby Willis sold the apartments for $125,000 to Alex F. Marcus and Charles F. Ursenbach [3] – both brothers-in-law of Leo Frank, who had famously been lynched in 1915.

I haven’t found out if there’s a reason the Druid Apartments were torn down other than a more profitable use of the land.

And following the history trail keeps turning up even more of these patent medicine-financed developments. Mozley Park in west Atlanta, a lovely 1920s neighborhood and an early epicenter of white flight, was founded by Dr. Hiram Mozley, whose lemon elixir promised to relieve heart disease, indigestion, nervous prostration, headache, constipation and neuralgia!

Follow the history trail and there’s always more than meets the eye.


Buy a VaHi Map Print and Support John Howell Park

The Great Frame Up and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association are partnering to help raise funds for improvements at John Howell Park, the 2.8 acre park at the geographic heart of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

The Great Frame Up, located at 1409 N. Highland Avenue, has commissioned City Prints Map Art, creators of fine art map prints, to create a beautiful map print of the Virginia-Highland area. Prints are on sale now exclusively at The Great Frame Up. Cost is $40 with optional custom matting and framing available. For even more value, the Great Frame Up is also currently offering a 30% discount coupon on frame moulding with every custom framing order.

50% of print sale proceeds will go toward planned improvements at John Howell Park. Click here for more information on John Howell Park, including a recently awarded $50,000 grant from Park Pride that will also help fund the planned improvements.

Click here to visit The Great Frame Up website for more information and to print out the 30% discount coupon.

Master Plan Community Workshop Scheduled

DSC_0037Interested in learning more about the Virginia-Highland Master Plan process that’s underway and having your two cents heard?

If so, you’re invited to join members of the group facilitating the process from 7:00-9:00 PM on Wednesday January 22 for a quick update on where the process stands and to kick off a community-wide discussion on topics not related to traffic and transportation. The breakout sessions will enable you to provide input to our professional planners on what you’d like to see in our neighborhood in the years to come.

The meeting is tentatively set to be held at Inman Middle School. If the location changes, we’ll let you know.

Improvements Coming Soon to Monroe/10th Intersection

According to the website, significant pedestrian safety improvements will be made soon at the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe Drive. The improvements are designed to support the recent opening of the Eastside BeltLine trail which currently terminates a few feet from the east side of Monroe, just across from Park Tavern and Piedmont Park.

Here’s the pertinent text from the article on the BeltLine website and a drawing of what the intersection will look like after the improvements are made:

“The improved section of Eastside Trail ends at Monroe Dr. adjacent to Park Tavern and Piedmont Park. The City of Atlanta Public Works Dept. approved the design for traffic signal and pavement striping improvements for the intersection. Eastside trail users will be able to cross Monroe Dr. to Piedmont Park more easily with new pedestrian signals and a 28’ wide striped pedestrian crossing with new curbramps built into the sidewalks on either side of Monroe Dr. The traffic signals for the Virginia and 10thStreet intersections with Monroe will be re-timed and coordinated in anticipation of heavier pedestrian and bicyclist activity through the area. Construction on the improvement is slated to begin in early November and be completed by mid-December (weather permitting). While improvements will occur on all four “corners” of the intersection, we have requested that the contractor prioritize the interface between the Park Tavern corner and the Eastside Trail.”